Grimes — February 29th at Lamberts, Austin
Montréal-based musician Claire Boucher fascinates me. Born in 1988, the story goes that Boucher had very little exposure to music until she was 18-years old. This childlike naiveté lends her approach to music — via the moniker Grimes — a unique playfulness. Boucher does not care that Mariah Carey, Enya, Tiffany, Brian Eno, Salem, Björk, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Gang Gang Dance, Madonna, The Smiths, and Prince don’t go together; but then again, traditional genres don’t seem to mean anything to Boucher. Anything goes: R&B, dance, glitch, new age, new wave, electronica, industrial, goth, hip hop, whatever… It’s all thrown in a blender and regurgitated at different speeds and pitches — the end result is a transcendental experience that is equally otherworldly and futuristic.
Boucher’s fourth release since creating Grimes in 2010 (and her first to be released on 4AD), Visions is her most coherent and fully-realized release to date. While her other releases are quite intriguing, they sound like someone who is still trying to figure stuff out (which, for all intents and purposes, was the case). Visions may turn out to be Boucher’s seminal release, the one in which she defines herself and the album that defines her in return (at least for this stage in her career — I suspect Boucher will begin to redefine herself and venture into other musical territories soon enough). Boucher seems more self-assured in what she is doing — her eerie falsetto vocals are stronger and more prominent; the swirling tones emanating from her keyboards and synthesizers are more pronounced; and the rhythms are more penetrating and driving.
I was totally blown away by Grimes’ performance during Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011. Admittedly, Boucher had a lot of difficulties performing in the midday sunlight of Austin’s Auditorium Shores — not because of her pale, goth-like complexion but because the glare made it difficult for her to read the displays on her keyboards and synthesizers. But, for me, the musical imperfections actually added to the experience, accentuating Boucher’s youthful naiveté as a musician. It was also exciting to observe as Boucher reconstructed her songs’ intricate layers of sounds live, on the fly, on stage — the set certainly dispelled any possible myths that Boucher sings over pre-recorded musical tracks during her live performances. That said — I am very anxious to experience Boucher’s upcoming Austin appearance (February 29th at Lamberts); Grimes’ music is definitely meant to be listened to at night.
Feature Image: photo credit John Londono