GRIMES – ART ANGELS
Art Angels is the follow up to Grime’s breakthrough LP Visions from 2012. I was fortunate enough to see her perform live before her star went into orbit, it was in a marquee, the rain teeming down outside, the straw laid down on the ground inside to stop the earth turning to a quagmire whipped around the audience due to strong winds, and it was only midday (or noon-hour if you’re a Canadian). Singing over triggered samples and loops, the crowd were treated to a high-energy fun performance. It felt like it was much later. It felt like this was the headline act, not the tent opener.
When you pay to see Grimes you expect some mistakes, but I’m betting you’ll always get an enthusiastic, nebulous rendition of all tracks in her repertoire. Art Angels is going to add some tasty morsels to her live set coming to you somewhere soon in 2016.
Critics might point to a slight directional change toward a more pop sensibility. However, her past highlights on her previous LPs were those tracks that were chorus driven, with addictive dance-ability, and clear sing-a-longs. World Princess Part II, anybody?
Clearly influenced by her touring in the Far East, the LP cover appears to be a pastiche of Manga horror, and one of the standout songs ‘Scream’ features Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes spitting feathers. Kill V. Maim might just be the best piece of music Grimes has recorded thus far. The albums version of REALiTi, whilst not a good as the version teased prior to the LP’s release, is still excellent. California and Flesh without Blood are sunny, upbeat and hugely enjoyable. It’s not all as wonderful as I’ve painted. Venus Fly featuring Janelle Monae sounds cobbled together. That’s no polemic against the album. It’s a very minor criticism. Art Angels is, for the most part, a triumph. Get to see Grimes play live because she’s now more than doubled her number of great songs begging to be heard in a much rawer state.
Grimes – REALiTi
BJORK – VULNICURA
Always enigmatic, Bjork, throughout her now lengthy career, has always attempted to push the boundaries of what music can potentially be. She’s worked with artists as diverse as Mark Bell, Gondry, Nellee Hooper, Timbaland and Death Grips. The Icelandic singer has never been afraid of embracing the latest technologies, and by the same token, incorporate musical instruments last heard in the banqueting halls of Medieval royalty. There’s no doubt she’s a true original. However, for me, I yearn for a return to an earlier incarnation of Bjork. Where’s the ethereal beauty of ‘Vespertine’ gone, the electronic genius that was ‘Homogenic’ or the pop masterclass that was ‘Debut’? All these earlier albums bore straight-ahead tracks of brilliance, one after another. Maybe it’s just me, but much of the recent output, can at times, feel like amorphous filler. Anyhows, if you did have a fear similar to mine, don’t be afraid, it sounds pretty damn good. Although this may not represent the nadir – the voice is back. It’s once again an instrument of aural incision. Co-produced by Arca and the Haxan Cloak – it purports to be a break-up album. But my heart’s never been broke I hear you cry. Lucky you. You’ll still probably like it. It sounds very much like Vespertine, sweeping instrumentation, emotional, dreamlike, taking you on a journey. If you’ve been on this ride with Bjork in the past, and abandoned the path, it could be time you re-joined. Of course, I’ll probably hate it in a month or two.