One of the most evocative and evolving albums of the year so far
Pritham Bhatia

17:13 14th March 2012

At once ethereal, at other times directly affecting - this is one album sure to appeal to fans of both electronic and indie music - without compromising on substance.

Clare Butcher, best known by her pseudonym 'Grimes' attempts to push musical boundaries with her latest release 'Visions'. Cluttered with hazy, foggy synthetic sounds, and interspersed with crystallised vocals, Grimes latest album is bound to foster attention - and with good reason.

As the Canadian-born singer and producer cites numerous influences, and attempts to encompass a melange of sounds and genres - it's difficult to box her into one category. At once haunting and sparse, and othertimes euphoric and beat-driven, 'Grimes' sees the talented artist carefully craft a dreamy collection of songs that is both high in concept and self-assured. Crossing electronica, dub step, witchhouse, drum'n'bass amongst countless other sub-genres, be prepared to be confused and enchanted.

Listening to 'Visions' in one sitting sounds like the product of a piqued imagination - addled with ADD-driven loops, injected with the energy of House Music Clubs, but impressed with nightmares and gothic lyrics. As ethereal as the record may sound on first listen, the modus operandi of Grimes seems not to be so much involved in soundscapes or bombast production, but that holy grail of many a great artist - the search for emotional truth. And it is in the manner she seeks out this truth that makes "Visions" such a compelling and personally affecting listen.

On the stand-out track "Genesis", Grimes intermingles her luscious and ethereal vocals with chopped, warped beats and piano flourishes, to create a sound which is at once beautiful and disarrayed. Juxtapose this with the infectious 'Oblivion" a Donna Summer infused track, layering a warbling synth over her mysterious, almost elusive vocals. Amidst the rush of electronica and drowning beats, this personal yearn for growth is clear. Of the track, Grimes says: "I was the victim of a pretty serious assault when I was eighteen. That song is about the way in which you deal with the public, being in the public… the feeling of the utterly horrible emptiness you have when you're trying to re-communicate with humans again." Wow - so not your typical Lady Gaga rubbish about not being able to answer your telephone.

While some tracks feel slightly too sparse, or over-reliant on pure production, such as the complexly composed "Visiting Statue", Grimes still manages to achieve a cohesive sound with purposefully laid textures and sonics. Even the heady intermingling of trance and drum'n'bass on 'Be A Body" leaves you feeling that Grimes knows exactly what she is doing - shifting gears continuously throughout the song and taking you on an emotional journey from regret to jubilation all in the space of 4 minutes.

Grimes' vocals also flit between the sweet and the simply scary throughout the album, and on the intimate track 'Skin" perhaps she gets carried away by deconstructing r'n'b and pop vocals, detracting from the shivery chill wave production. However, these really are microscopic pock marks on an otherwise beautifully polished diamond of a record.

Clare insists that the album was recorded in one solitary, three-week blast, which seems to give the tracks an isolatory beauty in themselves, and lends a cathartic quality to the collection. Grimes said: "I just wanted this album to be a means of clearing my mental state. Overriding everything I'd done previously too." After listening to the record, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone less than impressed with one of the most evocative and evolving albums of the year so far.