Showing posts with label grimes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grimes. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

video review: 'art angels' by grimes

Well, this was a hard one to crack. Lot of listens, but I think I finally got it.

Next up, it's about time I revisit Eric Church. Brace yourself, folks, and stay tuned!

album review: 'art angels' by grimes

You ever encounter one of those artists that seems to operate so much on their own wavelength that it's difficult to get a clear inroad to how to perceive or understand their art? As a critic, these are always some of the most frustrating acts to discuss - and for the longest time, Canadian electronic artist Grimes seemed to fall into that lane for me. 

Now I've been aware of her existence for years now - I first heard fragments of her music in university when I was going through my darkwave phase, and I've made several attempts over the past five years to try and untangle her artistic persona. On the surface, it might be easy to slot her into the spacious, airy side of dream pop with sparse beats and lots of dark misty atmosphere, somewhere between Enya with a splash of the more eclectic electronic percussion that some have compared to Bjork. But Grimes was more lo-fi and ragged in her presentation, the sort of Garageband-produced material that seemed so fresh online in the late 2000s before everyone started doing it, and the half-heard nature of her vocals and lyrics made things even tougher. I still find her debut record Geidi Primes perversely fascinating, mostly because the deeper reference points to Dune feel simultaneously incomprehensible and yet perfect all the same, the sort of deeply eccentric passion project that you can tell she had zero expectations would catch on. And I'm still trying to make heads or tails out of Halfaxa, which felt less esoteric and alien than her debut but no less impenetrable. I could sketch out reference points to the weirder edges of synthpop, electronica, and indie R&B, but Grimes seemed to exist in her own universe and my grip on it felt tenuous at best. I mean, I liked it, but I had the feeling if I understood it more, I'd like it that much more.

So did things get better with Visions, the first album she released under indie label 4AD? Well, while it might have cleared away some of the lo-fi blur to focus more on the distinctive ghostly electronic scratch paired with more textured percussion, but it seemed like some of the sense of alien mystique was missing. I'm not going to deny that Grimes could handle electro-pop, but the atmosphere wasn't quite as potent. Don't get me wrong, the mid-section of that record comes close to recapturing that feel, but it couldn't help but feel a little individuality had been lost - especially considering that it didn't translate into more of her work being comprehensible! So when I heard things had been cleaned up even more for her newest release after she had scrapped an album that was too dark and negative, I was curious to see where she'd take Art Angels - what did we find?