Grimes – Visions

In the mid to late 90’s the internet as a tool for the general public was still in its infancy – AOL, Compuserve, and Juno were the main providers (unfortunately for Juno they are / were neither the great movie nor the great Seattle emo-core band...nope. Just another dial-up service).  I loved the feeling of logging on to the internet and using the extremely fast (I jest, I jest) speeds of dial-up. My main intent was always to find rare music and / or imports that I couldn’t find at my beloved Princeton Record Exchange (surprise, surprise). Around this time there was also a darker subtext of…the internet as an evil entity. I will forever make fun of the Sandra Bullock movie The Net for its oft-repeated line “…but I’m Angela Bennet. I AM ANGELA BENNET”. 17 years on, the joke will still bring a smile to my face (though I may be the only one). The internet in those days was somewhat like the wild west – new things popping up all the time, commerce, news, a place for geeks to unite (and as someone who had to drive past the CD NOW HQ fairly often, still makes me smile that you couldn’t read their CD NOW sign from the Pennsylvania Turnpike because of an unfortunate choice of fonts)

Grimes is the one woman project of Montreal based Claire Boucher. Her music has been described by many publications as “Post Internet”. What is the “post internet” you may ask? It was described in a blog post by the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers as:

“On some general level, the rise of social networking and the professionalization of web design reduced the technical nature of network computing, shifting the Internet from a specialized world for nerds and the technologically minded, to a mainstream world for nerds, the technologically minded and grandmas and sports fans and business people and painters and everyone else.  Here comes everybody.

Furthermore, any hope for the Internet to make things easier, to reduce the anxiety of my existence, was simply over—it failed—and it was just another thing to deal with.  What we mean when we say “Internet” became not a thing in the world to escape into, but rather the world one sought escape from…sigh…It became the place where business was conducted, and bills were paid.  It became the place where people tracked you down.”

Grimes – and in particular this album (not her debut, despite what you may have read elsewhere) – fits this description perfectly. She ties many seemingly disparate elements together to give a unified vision that is at once experimental and full of melody. In other words – just my cup of coffee. This album is a must listen – a futuristic album based on techno-ish beats that is simply stunning. A “post internet” album for the ages, if you will. To get a sense of the mindset of Claire Boucher, I offer up this quote from her – “I feel like our generation is trying to figure out where it stands. I think a lot of shit is probably gonna change in the next ten years pretty drastically”

A bit about the music…

Infinite ♡ Without Fulfillment (intro) – gets the album started off with a rousing fashion – skittish electronic beats, whispered vocals, no chorus. A sign of the amazing album to come it fades out on a sinister sounding keyboard refrain.

Genesis – has a nice warm synth tone to start the song before Boucher’s voice comes into play, a sweet girl-group sound affecting her voice. An 80’s sounding electro beat accompanies her. Key lyrics: “My heart will never be / Never feel never…/ Never fall never knew / My heart will never be / Never feel never…”

Eight – begins with a robot sounding voice resembling a hybrid of a Kraftwerk song mixed with “Fitter, Happier” from Radiohead’s OK Computer. The refrain repeats throughout the song as a scattered electro beat carries the song along with Boucher’s voice.

Visiting Statue – could be straight from an 80’s Madonna album – of course for me, that is a huge compliment. Simple beat (even has the 80’s signature hand clap beat). Vocals are just stunning on this song, with little synth flourishes throughout the song giving it a unique sound. Key lyrics “Oh I’ve been waiting definitely / And my heart is here right next to me / And I’m caught waiting in the rain”.

Skin – a slower paced song, simple drums holding the song down. Whispered wordless vox over top of the synth / drum beat. The song slowly builds towards an emotional apex, Boucher’s voice laced with emotion. Absolutely stunning. The song shifts again towards the end, building towards a chant “And you can’t, and you can’t / See the weight in the trees / And you can’t, and you can’t / See the weight of the bees / And you can’t, and you can’t / See the weight on my heart / And you can’t, and you can’t  / See the weight on my heart / These are our / These are our fallen secrets”

Honestly, I could have talked about every track on this album with admiration – it is an album worth your time and attention. I tried to talk about some tracks that weren’t mentioned in other reviews, but the video included below is the 1st single from the album, “Oblivion”. I recommend you buy a physical copy or download it (legally) and enjoy it for what it is – a masterpiece.

Verdict: Visions can be scary (and perfect)

For Fans of: Zola Jesus, Erlend Øye, Madonna, Portishead, Morcheeba

Track Listing

All songs written and composed by Claire Boucher

01 Infinite ♡ Without Fulfillment (intro)
02 Genesis
03 Oblivion
04 Eight
05 Circumambient
06 Vowels = space and time
07 Visiting Statue
08 Be A Body (侘寂)
09 Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus) [ft. Doldrums]
10 Symphonia IX (my wait is u)
11 Nightmusic (feat. Majical Cloudz)
12 Skin
13 know the way (outro)

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