Hi-Fidelity Low-Fi: Album Review of ‘Geidi Primes’ by Grimes

In Album Reviews, Montréal on March 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Review of ‘Geidi Primes’ by Grimes. Arbutus Records, Montréal. 2010.

Grimes is Claire Boucher. And she could be accused of being too ‘of the moment’ for her own good. On her debut album, ‘Geidi Primes’, sparkling melodies and harmonies echo pre-‘Merriweather’ Animal Collective, while the dubby low end on tracks such as ‘Feyd Rautha Dark Heart’  could have come straight out of a Hyperdub production. This package, when all wrapped up in last year’s indie-hyper-trendy-low-fidelity-tape-recording-scene has forced me to mention so many current alt-trends in one paragraph I almost want to rip up all the tape, smash the harddrives and stick a recorder inside a 14th Century church.

If Grimes hadn’t got there first.

At this point there is no point pretending. Grimes will appear to reference something you have heard before, but you won’t even be sure she has. It will be buried so deep amongst soaring choral chants, polyrhythmic tinny drums, haunting electronics and straight forward indie rock riffs you’ll be too bewildered to even notice or absorb.

On Geidi Primes, Grimes creates a cohesive album from all these disparate elements, yet it is one in which singular songs will nevertheless climb their way up your playcount. In fact, the sense of whole her album gives off is only truly existant because each song is so unique it could never be found anywhere else. To mention the standout tracks from this album is to do Grimes a disservice, for much of the record’s enigmatic quality comes from those tracks which aren’t perfect to the ear, (or perhaps less pleasurable), but in which Grimes’ gradual layering of waves of sound over stabs of kick drums ebbs and flows gently, but permanently, into your subconscious. However, there are some tracks (and even parts of tracks) which are so full of a transcendental quality it is impossible to not mention them.

The first is ‘Rosa’, the record’s 4th track, and if you haven’t realised that you are listening to a special creation before then, you will by the time ‘Rosa’ kicks in. The bass-line is so repetitive, it could be stripped back, slowed down, garage rock. It could be, before the vocals set in. Gentle waves of ‘ooohhs’ and ‘aaahhs’ provide the backdrop to a melody which could chorus it’s way into a top 40 track (especially with it’s mention of twitter-trending ‘Vampires’, though I suspect this has little to do with True Blood and Twilight). Set against the incessant baseline her high pitched anti-squeak should be a marker that we have strayed too far into a creative mind and too far away from a creative work. It is not. The very next track ‘avi’ features poppy and oozing synths which could have come from label mates ‘Silly Kissers’, but the effect of the line ‘I won’t take your breath away’ nullifies this. It is manifestly the opposite to an uplifting chorus, but Grimes repeats her mantra with such a vigour it becomes almost sing-along. Almost. You may be too spooked to sing at all.

However it is the final track of Geidi Primes, ‘Beast Infection’, which appropriately sums up the work. The track opens with a clicking drum track which is unremittingly sustained throughout, before the drip-drop of raindrop electronics and reverb-soaked chords enter to provide the background to Boucher’s mesmerising falsetto. By the time all of this fades out and we are left alone with the snapping of the drum track it is impossible to not want more. Grimes leaves us hanging, in-limbo, at the far end of a record which has places of such sustained sonic quality that you cannot help but feel unfulfilled.

I want to write more, I want to persuade you of the virtue of every track as a single entity and as part of the larger ‘Geidi Primes’. I want to elaborate on Boucher’s stripped down bass, on her use of choral practices from around the world, and try to describe the mysterious stringed sound on ‘Gambang’, But I must conclude, and you must listen.

On ‘Zoal, Face Dancer’, Claire Boucher sings: “everybody thinks that I am boring”. On this evidence, her insecurities have little foundation. For, just as the dirtiness of her stage name, Grimes, is subdued and disguised by the natural rhyme between her name and album (Grimes/Primes), so, on her debut, Boucher disguises the clickety-clack of gritty rhythms underneath exquisite and supremely evocative prettiness. Her myspace handle is ‘Boucherville’, and it is a city anyone who is lucky enough to inhabit it will be richer for. However, it speaks to Boucher’s insecurities that she only allows herself a BoucherVILLE, when what she has created is  worth at the very least a BoucherWORLD. So, contact Arbutus Records (here), and buy this album. In the mean time, Grimes has made ‘Geidi Primes’ available for free download via her myspace,

  1. […] pretty wind. Check out their myspace page for upcoming shows (24th of March at the Green Room with Grimes!) and a free download of ‘Understory’. 45.509272 […]

  2. […] Room and seeing Pop Winds and Grimes. Steve wrote about both these bands, Pop Winds here and Grimes here, so read up, give a listen and go see some great music. Pop Winds are playing across Ontario in […]

  3. […] Primes’ that has proved to be one of my most played albums of the year (check the review here), and, just a few months after that release, she’s back with four NINE (!) more songs on her […]

  4. Nice review, man. Check out our Grimes – Geidi Primes Review sometime.

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