Pop music reviews, features and interviews from the pen of Joe Rivers.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Grimes - Geidi Primes released 8 August 2011 on No Pain in Pop
On ‘Zoal, Face Dancer’, the third track on this record, Claire Boucher (who ostensibly is Grimes) sings, “everybody thinks that I’m boring” in a crystal clear tone, completely unobscured by other voices. This is a rarity on Geidi Primes - the other main example being in the same song: “everybody knows that I’m an island” - and the considered exposure of this line, not to mention the lyric itself, is very telling in the wider context of the record.
Grimes specialises in the kind of woozy, dirty, “chillwave”-inspired pop made by the likes of Tune-Yards and Toro Y Moi. Geidi Primes was originally released as a free download and cassette last year, but is now being granted an official UK release by No Pain In Pop. Her sound is an intriguing one. There is a lo-fi quality to many of the tracks, often interspersed with moments of gorgeous purity. She also makes frequent use of layered vocals, which - aforementioned example aside - tend to be swathed in buckets of reverb. So much reverb, in fact, that the lyrics themselves are often indecipherable.
The oscillation between differing degrees of fidelity, the shrouding of the vocals, and the impenetrable song titles (‘Sardaukar Levenbrech’, ‘Feyd Rautha Dark Heart’) all hint at a fragile character, one who is nervous about putting their art on display for public consumption. It seems unlikely to be an accident that the lines you can deduce are those which convey an insular, insecure disposition. This sort of masking has rarely been seen since Liz Fraser made her songs purposely impenetrable in the latter days of Cocteau Twins.
The album is brimming with some inventive flourishes. ‘Sardaukar Levenbrech’ has a real East Asian feel to it - a motif that also crops up in ‘Gambang’ and ‘Venus In Fleurs’ - and ‘Shadout Mapes’ seems to herald the arrival of some kind of ghostly spirit. Overall, there’s an unsettling mood to the whole record - like a sinister, nightmarish version of Washed Out - which is aided by the adroit use of synths and sparse beats.
The bad news, however, is that often the songs themselves are found wanting. Tracks frequently trundle aimlessly, devoid of hooks, strong melodies or anything to really get your teeth into and inspire repeat listens. A few plays through and it all begins to blend into a soupy fug, and although by no means unpleasant, the appeal of breathy and ethereal mood pieces begins to wane surprisingly quickly.
There is an unshakeable feeling that Geidi Primes is only half-finished, and a fully realised version where the songs were properly fleshed out would be thoroughly rewarding. For the moment, we’re left with incomplete concepts, snatches of inspiration, and a performer hiding behind a cloak of effects. That said, we can’t pretend we weren’t warned by the lady herself. Her insecurities manifest themselves throughout the record, and while certainly not boring, Grimes would be advised to have the courage of her convictions, and follow her ideas to fruition.