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Grimes wrote, produced, engineered and practically crafted almost every note of her new album, 'Art Angels'. Having taught herself electronic production, Claire "Grimes" Boucher has mastered guitar, ukulele, and violin to stitch together this multi-verse of strikingly different sounds. Each song is its own adventure. Each individual construction has its own personality, its own furniture, and its own espirit. Listening to this, one feels like this is visionary, and a work of art like this is proof that dropping out of McGill University where she studied Neuroscience in Montreal, was not actually a bad idea.
The first music video from Art Angels, splices and re-aligns the songs "Flesh Without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream." Grimes came up with the concept and even directed the video herself.
Act 1 sees her rolling around a tennis court dressed as Marie Antionette as well as acting out something akin to that of Seppuku - the Japanese ritual of disembowelment, then jumping on her bed in the form of a falling angel, to leaping across a restaurant dressed like a wild teenage Diane Keaton, then playing video games looking like Tank Girl, Grimes just keeps changing. We see it finish off in Act 2, as she reverse-walks into a swimming pool, something reminiscent of Virginia Woolf.
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In a recent Interview with Hunger Magazine, Grimes explains the difference between Fashion and Style: "I think style and fashion are actually different ideas. I think fashion is more commodified, this happens here and you have to be there and there will be top designers and all those worlds that fashion interfaces with - it's just quite a broad concept. For me, I really love style and I definitely interface with style".
Grimes is someone who really understands that distinction. It is such a refreshing thing to hear this in an industry where so many pop acts feel too "managed". No interesting person in history, I can assure you, has ever been consistent. One can change their style every single day one draws breath, as long as one is being a true representation of oneself at that particular time. Style is sincerity, whereas conformity - or fashion, as they call it - that is insincerity. You can never set a trend if you are in fashion with everyone else. You have to be out of fashion to set a trend. I always recall, another person who I admire so much, Daphne Guinness, pointed out that one also has to make mistakes in order to develop a style that is satisfactory to oneself.
The previous album, 'Visions', was made entirely by Grimes herself in under a month, allegedly she locked herself in a dark room Rothko-style with only GarageBand, some Adderall, and food that friends would bring to her to keep her going. The album opens sounding very classical, makes one think of the French period Dramas my Mother used to make me endure watching as a child. 'California' is the next song, which has quite spikey lyrics, and has a sound many unimaginative critics will probably use the word "Bubblegum" to describe. ("I'm not ready to win / I don't want to know what they say / 'Cause I get carried away / Commodifying all the pain"). Commodifying seems to be a word she likes to throw about. Then it leaps into 'Scream', which guest stars Aristophanes, a Taiwanese Rapper and is littered with Grimes screaming her throat so raw it probably ripped the skin from the insides of her cheeks. A lot of these songs, unlike on 'Visions', could be played on guitar. The overall album is an experiment, a well-crafted pick'n'mix of beats and high-pitched vocal acrobatics set in something like a Japanese Anime based in outer space.
"When I was a teenager," she told Rolling Stone, "I looked up to Billy Corgan and Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson because there weren't women I could relate to," and then there is the comment that she layered "so much Enya synth shit" to the last song, "Butterfly", that she kept crashing her computer. Her influences are vast and wide, she employs multiple media, learns new practical skills continuously, champions personal style over fashion, and has invented her own sound in the middle of an era where lazy recycling is popular. Grimes is one of the most innovative artists of her generation, and I don't know where it is going to go from here, but I know it will be interesting.
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