Visions is the fourth album in two years from the Toronto-born, Montreal-based Claire Boucher, or Grimes, and it presents her 2-D musical schemes in an atmosphere of drowned-out drum and bass, hymn-like vocals and ambiguous emotional drive. Like a fairytale space princess rendering of Uffie, Grimes burbles in a high pitch over a blend of heavy and fly-away synthesizers. For a dream-pop album written in what she describes as seclusion without the privilege of daylight, it is astoundingly airy and upbeat with a zephyr of trip-hop.
Upgrading her talent from previously released Geidi Primes and Halfaxa, Grimes has come into a cleaner, more distinct version of her IDM self, albeit one still influenced by Aphex Twin, TLC and Enya. Geidi Primes spawned “Zoal, Face Dancer,” the California beach bonfire answer to CocoRosie’s shout out to experimental happiness, where Grimes naively whimpered, “Everybody thinks that I’m boring/Many people think I’ve got no clue.” She took those Tropicália beats, the industrial reverb featured on Halfaxa’s “Weregild” and her instinctual talent from her DIY background a step galactically deeper with Visions, proving she’s got longevity in her seemingly innocent demeanor.
The third track and first single, “Oblivion,” grinds in with its romanticism drenched in dub and a lofty, enchanting voice. The breathy lyrics, “Thinking, counting, all the hours you wait,” are mumbled just loud enough to hear the pain that hibernates. The instrumental serves as a perfect denial of the content her lyrics are leaking out. “Genesis” has a similar bassline with a winding psychedelic synth waving overhead. She mumbles her lyrics again with a spaced-out, soaring angelic voice over tough beats, but it feels uplifting and inspirational, comforting even in this weird ethereal space.
Her “Colour Of Moonlight (Antiochus),” featuring Doldrums, has Prince-like “When Doves Cry” beats under staccato vocals. The addition of Doldrums, Eric Asher from Spiral Beach, takes the track on a new organically weird wavelength. The merging of two significantly similar artists on one track could have become cumbersome; yet with layering precision and attention to timing, this track may be her setup for future rapturous collaborations.
We reach an end of the space-age therapy session on “Know The Way,” cooling off with sensual rain-stick sounds and a gentle guitar part. Angelic vocals blanket a murmur of conversations on the minute-and-45-second ride back to reality. If there were ever a call for a dub dreamscape to accompany Bosch’s “Garden Of Earthly Delights,” Grimes has answered.