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Beat Jab: Grimes, Yann Tiersen


Grimes, 'Visions' - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Beat Jab offers reviews in prose poetry form from 2011 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award winner Micah Ling.

★ ★ ★ ½

Claire Boucher (Grimes) is a Canadian-born artist, and she has hints of Feist, matched with Taken By Trees, Lady Gaga, (even Madonna?) and a lot of robotics: almost Das Racist. It's falsetto and layered and looped. There are some indistinct moments here: a little too repetitive ("Circumambient"), but there are also tracks ("Be a Body") that are entirely unified and melodic. Despite all of the digital play, it's not at all difficult to listen to. "Colour of Moonlight (featuring Doldrums)" really allows that unique voice to resonate in an almost animalistic way. There does seem to be a kind of surprising pleasure throughout the album. A certain playfulness that isn't necessarily immature, but raw. I don't know that this can be called haunting, "Symphonia IX" certainly teases that term, but it's more just in the clouds: somehow cosmic. You can't help but imagine that Grimes is hip and punk, maybe offensive. Certainly rebellious: she's known for her rebellion. One of the latest end-of-world films should snatch this up as their soundtrack: maybe cast Boucher herself as the protagonist.

Yann Tierson, 'Skyline' - SUBMITTED PHOTO

Yann Tiersen
★ ★ ★ ★

As usual, Tiersen produces epic sounds; it's no wonder he's done movie soundtracks (like Amelie): this is the music you want in the background of your life. This is the kind of music that might talk you into things, or out of things. Mostly into. It seems almost classical, with so many different instruments (guitar, violin, piano, harpsichord, accordion, synthesizer, xylophone). And on top of it, the voice - somehow it tops all of the instruments, or, matches them in some kind of crazy harmony. Tiersen was classically trained on several instruments in France, but he's got punk elements in this just as much as his formal education. You can hear that there are things going on here that aren't traditional instruments: saws? Typewriters? Toy pianos? Sounds you can't even quite place. "Exit 25 Block 20" starts out with percussion and some sort of human-sounding bark. But chimes, too, and bells; like a freaked out/funny séance. The album fits together sort of like a skyline: unique tracks that work best linked together. If you get the urge to start filming your life, play this.

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