Thursday, 9 February 2012

Grimes - Visions


I'm one of the few to have listened to both 'Halfaxa' and 'Geidi Primes' in 2010. Those albums were hard to understand and get in to. It took several listens for Geidi Primes to click. 'Grimes' has such an experimental edge which she expressed so delicately on her first few in dependant albums. The beats were heavy and she excelled in computerised effects to create an eerie atmosphere. These albums were not just steps to 'Visions', but they hold great Independence and personal skill. Grimes is an amazing vocalist and her 'avant-garde' style is fresh for a 2012 takeover.

This album is completely different to what you would have heard in her early albums. First thing to notice is the 'synth pop' aesthetics and industrial-esque beats. The reverb has been replaced with further vocal effects and compact beats. The opening track 'Infinite' highlights her ability at singing. Her crescendo vocals are magnificent and it works with the steady beat and single noted synthesizer which drives through the track. Think of 'M83 + Zola Jesus' mixed with 'Depeche Mode' and some 'Alphaville', that pretty much sums up Visions.

It's all well and good name dropping new wave and synth pop artists but the end result is only comparative. Grimes is completely individualistic and takes these genres to the next level with her vocal range and hard hitting beats. 'Genesis' strikes me as an instantly likable track. The synthesizers are heavy and deep. The flute sounds sway with reverb as her vocal reminds me of fellow Canadian 'Raphaelle Standell-Preston' of 'Braids'.

This isn't experimental music, the pop aesthetic is still heard. I think she has improved drastically since those cassette releases two years ago. Her vocal range is made for dream pop and classical. 'Oblivion' Shows a great layered sound. The initial synthesizer riff is again very deep and sounds fresh as the vocals enter and sway between the left and right speaker. it's ethereal and everything just points towards a clash of genres. That psychedelic vibe with dream pop textures and synth pop hooks all focused around the industrial and simplistic beat. it's a gorgeous blend which creates something quite spectacular. The sampled vocals add a sense of beauty as Claire Bouchers vocals are layered with delay and reverb.

Her sound has definitely been influenced by the 80's new wave movement. 2011's Drive featured some great modern synth pop gems by the likes of Kavinsky and Desire. That's what Visions is to me. It's an extended version of these simplistic synth pop tracks with cutting edge compositions. 'Eight' has enigmatic vocal samples looped with Claire's beautiful pitch shift vocals. it's underwhelming looking at the track length and the 1:48 just blaring at me, I want more.'Circumambient' opens with a dark beat and I sense a track which is going to be extremely dark and eerie, yet it turns into something quite extraordinary. The first synth line is bright and bubbly and as it progresses and increases with a venomous snare drum, Claire's vocals enter with delicacy and clear sounding production. She sounds so childish and sweet but at the same time dark and hidden. Like that Drive soundtrack, Grimes manages to create a perfect blend between synthetic instrumental and delirious vocals. You can really appreciate her vocal capacity when she screeches like a four year old girl. You can hear heavy soundscapes which are borderline scary as her vocals close the track off.

'Vowels = Space And Time' draws comparisons to 90's psybient and it hits heavy as the short lasting cowbell brings a sense of simplicity into the soaring dream pop sound. I adore the vocal melodies going on int he second half of this track. it's a strong track and the loops only add to the synthetic atmosphere. Psybient can also be heard in the following track 'Visiting Statue'. That tribal-esque drumming and simple synth riff allow the otherworldly synths to take control of the structure and force it to explode in dark waves of vocal melody.

We now enter the world of 'Be A Body'. This beat is fantastic and the obscured synth sound which has been heavily reverbed sounds immaculate compared to the pretty standard beat which sounds like it's been hand picked from Dance eJay. The second half has stronger synth sounds and more vocal screeches. 'Colour of Moonlight' starts with a vocal loop and that aforementioned snare sound which she holds so dearly. This track was made with fellow Canadian experimental artists Doldrums or as he's known by his parents, Eric Woodhead. He's another obscure electronic artist who mashes genres to create a world of perfect fusion and hos contribution is noted.

'Symphonia IX' sounds like a synthesizer version of Deerhunter's 'He Would Have Laughed'. the dark vocals enter as the twinkling synth makes it's way down. Grimes is a now a modern master at vocal layers and her singing just sounds mesmerising on this track. Think Cocteau Twins mixed with Hildegard Von Bingen. The beat is steady and doesn't exactly progress in volume or style as the vocals become much more clearer and sway between each side of the speakers.

The dark and spacious 'Nightmusic' features yet another Canadian obscure artists. This time we have the instrumentalist Majical Cloudz. Grimes gives yet another beautiful vocal which raises the roof. The instrumental is solid and has a nice friendly beat which works perfectly with the fast paced spoken word section. Then the track turns nasty as several synths take control making it sounds scary and 'M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming' sounding. The ethereal soundscpaes come and go but the hard beat always stays, the dynamics are really something to listen out for in this track. 

Then comes the slower and matured 'Skin'. The synths sound clean and her vocals are obscured by the heavy drum beat. The vocals sound fantastic and she has great vocal delivery. This is how you use your voice as an instrument, she's using her voice as a bowed guitar, it sounds perfect. This track does drag on a little. Six minutes in length isn't too bad but when you have a simplistic beat it's a little repetitive. The slower synthesizers fit the mood and her vocals are very dreamy which could send me to sleep (in a good way). After this we have the soundscapes and guitar notations and bass sounds. The trickling rainfall works wonders with the reverberated guitar and swaying vocal. It's under two minutes but you can really feel the vibe. it's the ending and you know it's the ending.

Visions is such an improvement. The previous releases just didn't have that cutting edge and compactness which this album has. The brilliant synth sounds have been edited effectively and her vocal harmonies are a real attraction which will make you beg for more. It's a shock to the system because the album cover looks like something The Cramps would create. Visions is filled with delicate vocals and mouth watering synthesizers. It deserves all the praise it will no doubt receive. It holds one of the best tracks of 2012, Genesis, which sounds extremely childish but at the same time incredibly mature. Grimes has gone from strength to strength and I hope she continues on the same track for many years to come.
~Eddie

9.0

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