Astrid & Rachel Grimes - Through the Sparkle

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:10 Release Date:2017-08-25

Trying to pigeonhole certain music is a standard pastime of all music reviewers and most of the fans, too. Sometimes though, that is not quite possible. Try the two artists, actually a band and an artist, Astrid and Rachel Grimes, who have joined forces here to come up with Through The Sparkle.  Pianist and composer Rachel Grimes is probably a more known quantity, as she was part of one of the more inimitable bands of the latter part of the Nineties and beginning of this century. Rachel’s a band was labeled everything from classical to post-rock, and a few other things as well. Whatever you would call their music, it would always fall under one word - exquisite.

Astrid, a French band from Nantes that started to operate at about the same time as Rachel’s, play an equally hard-to-define music, touching on genres as diverse as free jazz, contemporary classic, and folk. When Grimes started her solo career, Astrid was in constant contact with her, and persuaded her a few years back to come to France, where this album was composed and recorded. In need of further references besides Rachel’s and Astrid themselves, think Godspeed You! Black Emperor in their quieter modes, piano-led Kronos Quartet, or some great bands found on the Kranky label like Labradford on their Mi Media Naranja album.

What I would like to call it is organic music; natural-blending soundscapes, ambient music without any electronics, and a style that would perfectly fit into a wide range of cinematic scenes, from romantic to film noir. The musicians function as an organic unit, although you are bound to notice Rachel Grimes’ piano and Vanina Andreani’s violin the most. What is most interesting is that, although the music never leaves a certain slow flow, it always has you expecting what is to come next; one mellifluous passage replacing another.

It would be hard to point to track that deserves special attention, but “Hollis” (Mark Hollis?) and the closer “Le Petit Salon” are the ones I keep playing the most. I did try to find a fault with Through The Sparkle. I simply couldn’t.

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