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Astrid and Rachel Grimes - Through the Sparkle

  by Erick Mertz

published: 1 / 3 / 2018

Astrid and Rachel Grimes - Through the Sparkle
Label: Gizeh Records
Format: CD


Melancholic yet powerful collaboration between French experimental ensemble and American pianist Rachel Grimes

Consider the view from your window. It’s winter. It’s not just dark and damp out there. It’s tending toward deeper winter. A spiritual winter. By the time 'Hollis' the fourth track on 'Through the Sparkle' settles into its grove, it feels as though the collaboration between Astrid & Rachel Grimes aspires to that depth of season when one becomes accustomed to cold and isolation. Between the sparse piano, dithering tones and tender percussion, 'Hollis' and its companion tracks are the sound of waking, buttoning the coat, walking away. It’s about finding a way through. Astrid is an accomplished French ensemble; Rachel Grimes is an American pianist. Together they form a creative force that is both delicate and powerful. Their album begins in a more stirring fashion with 'En Masse' which gently fuses folk influenced strings and stirring keys, setting a sombre and thoughtful course, leading into 'M5' which draws on tremelo’d guitars, becoming ever bleaker on the following track 'The Theme', a kind of bottoming out. The guitars return on 'M1' but only this time they’re acoustic, plaintive, draped in a Western-themed solitude. By far my favorite track and the most lasting on 'Through the Sparkle' is 'Mossgrove & Seaweed' with its tense piano introduction, which climbs into an emotional, percussion driven crescendo. The last track, 'Le Petit Salon', begins with a lone melancholic violin that breaks apart, affected by noise, perhaps the onset of numbness from so much cold. It’s not exactly spring that they seem to evoke here; it feels rather like the chaos of so much simultaneous growth. The seven tracks on 'Through the Sparkle' are characterized as miniature symphonies, complete but restrained; on that account, I wholly concur. There is an aspect of miniature here. At roughly six minutes each (there is curious a uniformity here) the album feels compressed, a complete season packed in, in under an hour. Yet for something so complete there is a whole lot of negative space; it breathes like few other albums of its ilk are confident enough to do.

Track Listing:-
1 The Herald En Masse
2 M5
3 The Theme
4 Mossgrove & Seaweed
5 Hollis
6 M1
7 Le Petit Salon

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