Rachel Grimes, formerly the leader of Rachel’s (funnily enough), hasn’t released a solo album for six years, so The Clearing is a significant release. Working with the likes of Helen Money and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, the album moves through stately and deep neo-classical territory, Grimes’ piano leading the way throughout.
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Having only just recovered from a dream where I was forced to call our web guru Nathon in order to get rid of an earthworm that had landed on my desk I was hoping that the new record from former Rachels lady Rachel Grimes would soothe my shattered mind. In parts it does but there are also more discordant forces at work. Wanna find out?.... come with me.
Several of the early tracks in the album are foreboding with harsh notes appearing out of silence to give a total sense of unease. The metronomic piano and slowly building strings of ‘The Clearing’ suggest something terrifying is imminent. Perfect horror soundtrack fodder. ‘The Air of Place’ again is built round rhythmic piano but this time the strings loom large - beautifully played hunks of sound that disperse into the ther before they’ve had chance to settle. I found the sax lead on ‘The Herald’ not to my taste at all and was visibly distressed yesterday when listening to it but from there it’s like Grimes has decided that she’s put the listener through enough trauma and it’s time to revel in the sweetness. ‘The Air in Time’ is the albums first truly transcendental moment with staccato strings suggesting some gorgeous Ryuichi Sakamoto composition. Rolling pianos bring in ‘In the Vapour With the Air Underneath’ the pianos played in a similar style to Lubomyr Melnyk, again there are Sakamoto-like chord changes at work in this truly stellar composition.
The second half of the album has moments of discordance and throws spanners at you at every turn but it flows much better and revels in the kind of beauty Grimes delivered on such albums as ‘The Sea and the Bells’. The previous Rachel Grimes record was solo piano, this times guests are aplenty including strings galore and Loscil who manipulates several tracks but the overriding feeling is that Rachel Grimes gives you beauty...but she’s going to make you work for it.
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- The Clearing by Rachel Grimes
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