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Visions Visions


Grimes GrimesVisions

8.7 / 10

“Visions” - Claire Boucher's fourth release in less than two years - is an important record that allows for interesting concepts to come up in the conversation. The first, and most discussed, is the famous “post-internet” label she has attached to the album. Claire - 23 years old and a bit of a key figure on the Montreal DIY scene - has created a world where us avid music consumers roam the virtual territories as if we were walking by a buffet, picking things up here and there. A world where the musicians themselves have the history of music at their disposal, just one click away. It's exactly at the centre of this global panorama that Grimes places herself. Fed up with the infinite options, she places herself here in order to start generating part of all that music she believes should exist but hasn't yet been made. Furthermore, Claire has an essential piece of knowledge: she knows that the weird, the “other”, the confusing, is what fascinates today's Indie scene the most. Essentially: we shouldn't say she writes music from the margins, but rather that she needed to break the meaning of the word border in order to be able to take part in the game to begin with. From this perspective on the global village, she made this unclassifiable “Visions”, which - like all good works of art - poses more questions than answers. Is Post-Modernism an excuse for any movement around? How does one translate into sound the idea of the Web as a subtext? Are we dealing with a simple conceptual pretext, or do all the theoretical aspirations she broaches really work in Grimes?

“Visions”, as said, doesn't offer solutions, or at least not very openly. It's full of tricks that cleverly hide some clues that can only be decoded by those who dare to read between the lines. Rebellious - bordering on Dadaist - everything on it fits perfectly, precisely because nothing does. It's an effort on which there are both errors and successes. Both the ideas approached on Grimes' two free 2010 cassettes - and the stylised achievements on her fabulous split with D'Eon last year - come together. The result is a brew of sonic debris, where references and styles float without any apparent order or harmony. Clouds of Witch-House, mutant Electro, boned R&B and Art-Pop in abundance, alongside the many other genres 4AD has listed in their press release: from New Age to K-Pop, IDM, Industrial, Glitch and New Jack Swing. Before such a tangle of sounds you run the risk of being entranced, like in front of a TV screen. If you look closely, you see threadlike loops, excessive synthesisers and amphibious bass lines - gothic moods that suddenly become celestial, hits, in principle danceable, that catch you on the wrong foot - ballads that point in vertical directions, melodies from here, structures from there and arrangements from somewhere else. Nothing is what it seems.

From here, we come to the conclusion some other publications have already come to - and which sounds plausible - no matter how exaggerated it may seem. “Visions” parts from simply “post-internet” and approaches the notion of “post-genre”. It's extremely focussed and tremendously juicy on the surface, however on the inside, vagueness, constant change and confusion reign. This is meant as a compliment, as that's exactly what she is going for. Children of the chaos, the tracks don't stand still at any time and to look for similarities between them is almost madness. The treatment of the voice and some beats may be reminiscent of Björk, Mariah Carey (our heroine's favourite song is “Fantasy”) or eighties follies like Danielle Dax. There are also links with modern colleagues, especially the stroboscopic pop of Crystal Castles, the processed loops of Animal Collective (Claire has admitted they were initially a major influence) and the globalised sound, Eastern and alien, of Gang Gang Dance.

Furthermore, it is interesting to go a bit further and see in Claire's aspirations those of someone writing a thesis, to see her as the female counterpart of other modern theorists like Ferraro or John Maus. Although she's much less pedantic than the former - because she knows that the attention span of the YouTube generation is short - in the end she is as engaging as Maus. Like Maus, her songs share a certain darkness being written “in a period of self-imposed cloistering during which time I did not see daylight”. Also, her inclination towards Classical (where he refers to Bach, she cites Mozart's “Réquiem” on “Nightmusic”, a title paraphrasing the Austrian composer) and the university baggage, which in her case isn't Philosophy but Neuroscience. There is no doubt: Claire knows a thing or two about connections, and that's how she manages to shape the experiment into the form of a fun toy.

In regards to the lyrics – aside from the signals scattered over several verses like those of “Oblivion” ( “when you're running by yourself it's hard to find someone to hold your hand”) and “Skin” ( “touch me so I could be human once again”) - most of them are merely anecdotal. While the other elements of “Visions” sound both insatiable and capable of holding back - the lyrics are treated as another element altogether, sometimes even bordering on sarcasm. Is the writer daring us to question whether we live in a world where texts have been losing ground in favour of images? The record keeps playing and its mysteries remain unsolved.

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