Review Summary: A spectre is haunting dance music...
Allow me to paint a picture. The year is 3012. You wake up, pulling on your monotone grey jumpsuit as you swallow a nutrient-rich hamburger pill. Outside, smog-ridden skies can’t mask the abrasive shrieks of the neon billboards that surround your pleasant geodome living space. The question is, when you hop into your hovercar to blast off to the spacemines, what’s going to be playing on your stereo?
With “Visions”, Grimes, Claire Boucher to her friends, has presented us with an answer. This is Futurist pop, bracing, embracing, and as endlessly fascinating as any Phillip K. Dick vignette. Rarely does a record come around that’s this fun and eerily beautiful all at once. It’s the formidable balance of skillful musicianship and careful structural engineering that ensures each note will inspire you to dance, then haunt you just long enough to bring chills. It’s atmospheric, but never smothering; lo-fi, but not tinny. Overall, a spectacular product.
This is electro-trash, like Kraftwerk swerving off the autobahn to go speeding down a dimly lit dirt road. Somewhere in the ensuing hail of mud and gravel lies genius. The soundscapes are punctuated by an endless tapestry of oddball synth voices. Spaceships talk back and forth in bleeps over a rising and falling choir of mechanical elephants and bumblebees, evil washing machines, and alien whistles, Boucher’s Madonna-with-a-cold chirp seeping out from between the cracks to tie whole aesthetic together. You could call it other-worldly, but I’d say its transitory, floating somewhere between here and the chaotic center of the universe.
Boucher is fluent in the language of sonic syntax, adding and subtracting lines in delicately calculated ways to stir our emotions. Songs fade seamlessly from ecstatic to creepy and back again without skipping a beat (see the fantastic “Symphonia IX”). This manic organization could be mistaken for anarchy, but everything is always under control. She is a master of the instruments and the soundwaves themselves, reigning in and letting loose, all at the appropriate times.
Self-awareness skirts pretension at points, but never really detracts from the overall power of perfect pop creations like “Be a Body”. "Visions" is all set to be a seminal document, so listen. I’m glad that when 3012 rolls around we’ll still be dancing.