Grimes : Visions
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Grimes : Visions

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It’s 2012 and indie is dead. Not a great loss, really. Much like the T-1000 flailing around in the vat of molten steel at the end of Terminator 2, indie resorted to a rapid-fire metamorphosis – ephemeral flashes of chillwave, witch house, new R&B. There are traces of all of the above on Visions, what feels like the first fully-realised full-length from Grimes after a string of fairly great cassette releases.

The most surprising thing about Visions is just how darn danceable it is. It’s a very elemental record, and the sparse, often retro, beats define most of the record’s 13 immensely enjoyable tracks. It’s not so much of a leap from the subdued instrumentation of Halfaxa, Grimes’s previous release, but the effect is compounded in a massive way by a newfound uninhibited style of singing – calling to mind the likes of The Weeknd and The-Dream, while attaining something that’s only barely distinguishable from the R&B mainstream (through these barely accustomed ears, anyway).

Oblivion sounds like a time-jump evolution of Afrika Bambaataa’s Kraftwerk sampling heyday, a quality which permeates most of Visions. Grimes’s softly sweet vocals soar above classic drum machine loops, peppered with bombastic vintage tones.

A deeper throwback lies within the appreciation for melody, with Oblivion’s throwaway hook harking back to Del Shannon’s gilded ‘60s classic Runaway.

Much like the beast that Kanye’s Runaway eventually evolved into, Circumambient goes nuts with copious amounts of spasmodic sampler action, before a seemingly inevitable Mariah Carey-like squeal. It’s a hell of a mess, but it works.

Eight stands as the weirdest song on a very weird album. Based entirely upon a bizarre baritone vocoder loop, Grimes’s lead vocal is pitched up to chipmunk proportions – crooning her way beyond the logical extreme of Prince’s Camille alter-ego.

Though weird, you couldn’t accuse Grimes’s transgressive qualities as being anything close to contrived. There’s something overwhelmingly genuine about her approach, maybe it’s just her Canadian-ness (or simpler still, her presser is devoid of the term “Brooklyn-based”).

It’s 2012 and ‘loading up a self-made houseboat with live chickens and a fuckload of potatoes to sail down the Mississipi’ is the new ‘recording a break-up album in a cabin in the woods’, and we’re all the better for it.

BY LACHLAN KANONIUK

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In A Word: Self-assured