The Joup Friday Album: Grimes – Visions

ABT025digipack.tifFull Disclosure: I am new to Grimes, and as new things often inspire in me rabid obsession I must ask that you, my dear reader, pardon the “She can do no wrong” skew that will inevitably saturate this post.

That said, Visions is one hell of an album.

After first hearing about Grimes in relation to the burgeoning Witch house scene that peripherally fascinated me in 2010/11 she fell waaay off my radar. The truth is, upon those first, exploratory dabblings Grimes’s music did not connect with where I was at the time. I kept her music in the back of my mind, fairly certain I would come back to it later.

Welcome to later.

I am a sucker for music made by a singular artist armed with technology that allows them to do everything themselves. Like a comic both written and drawn by the same person, when one artist crafts an entire album of music around their ideas, their lyrics, their vocal melodies, there is something that cannot come from music made by collaborative effort. Neither is better than the other, however the singular artist’s work often feels profoundly more personal to me. The immediate example that springs to mind is NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. PHM will always be my favorite NIN record because it is essentially just Trent Reznor and a bank of sequencers. This idea and its results immediately resonated with me because while the sonic textures Mr. Reznor employs are lush the record becomes that much more immersive because as sole composer/performer Mr. Reznor essentially walks us through his mind.

Visions has the same feel. Not sonically, but personally.

Sitting down with my friend Keller recently, a haze of cannabis in my brain – first in some time – and headphones firmly on my ears I fell down a rabbit hole with Visions and subsequently Grimes’s 2015 follow-up Art Angles. As I listened a feeling that I have not had in some time stole down upon me – it was the feeling that I was standing on the precipice of musical joy, and that I was going to be spending a fair amount of time with Grimes. And that prophecy holds true now not even 72 hours later. I’m obsessed. I cannot listen to anything else. There is so much to explore in this music, these songs, these albums; a lot to absorb and a million tiny details to decode and consume. It’s music as an adventure, a discovery, and that’s different than a lot of what my musical diet has been of late.

Visions is a delight not just for this personal lushness but also because as a 40 year old man it is a bizarre feeling to plug into the world of a twenty-something year old girl.  It’s what I’ve come to think of as “Alien Nostalgia” – there’s enough of the shared experience of adolescence despite our 13+ years difference in age, but there’s also a grading curve, as the world is a different place for one in their twenties today. So that ache and uncertainty, brashness and sometimes illogical performance are all things I’ve shared in during my life, when I was younger. But there’s a technological gap, a cultural gap (look at her influences – I have many of the same in common and then… drake?) and the gap that gender can create. I’ve always been empathetic and open to experiencing different perspectives, and to put in headphones and suddenly have a twenty-five year old girl translate the ineffable qualities of her emotions and experiences to me is… well, it’s incredible. And because Grimes’s music is so personal, so beyond comparison or genre-fication means it is pure expression manifested as art. Undiluted and potent, and it immerses me in her world so completely that it’s maybe even a little creepy; not sexual or covetous, but just outside the everyday experience. Hence the “Alien” component of “Alien Nostalgia”.

If you listen to this buy it. Then go grab Grimes’s 2015 Art Angels and listen to the evolution. As I said she makes all the music and is getting so good at it that she’s infiltrating the fringes of the pop world. Lead song “California” on Art Angels isn’t on pop radio to my knowledge, but I’m thinking that Grimes’s next record will break that wall and elevate those ranks, the way Bjork inspired and changed pop well almost two decades ago now.

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Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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