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Cutting Edge Pop
on 12 March 2012
Following an increasingly impressive run of varied releases, Visions may well be the album to send Montréalaise babe Clare Boucher skywards if not stratospheric. And there are few finer platforms from which to perform such a launch than with 4AD who, after last year's success with Gang Gang Dance, seem very much to be in the market for acts that sound like what The Cocteau Twins could have been producing if still recording today.
So to Visions, which if nothing else again proves Boucher to be one of the more interesting and certainly most prolific of those currently practising in cutting-edge pop. With little care for genre, "Circumambient" is, for example, half a radio-friendly ballad echoed out to infinity and half a simmering slice of minimal IDM all chopped, spliced and staggered into a precarious but striking blend. On the other hand, amid Boucher's high-pitch self-backing vocal tricks, roboticised and Germanic repeats announce and frame the lurching industry of "Eight".
More than earning the "outer-limits pop" classification that has recently been flung in Boucher's direction, "Genesis" is full of warm synth progressions and an organic vocal drift that evokes Julianna Barwick`s similar adventures on The Magic Place. Here, as elsewhere, a straightforward beat adds backbone to otherwise ethereal proceedings that all combine into the sort of new age whimsy popular with those that dig interpretative dance - see "Symphonia IX (my wait is u)" for a lesser reprise, notable really in such company only for its harsh synthetic-snare cracks.
Not content there, "Oblivion" is in turn a Casio-driven, retro-futurist pop encounter beamed directly from the 80s into some contemporary sci-fi setting. That in doing so the chorus seems to obtain a double-take likeness with Tiffany`s stellar version of "I Think We're Alone Now" is sure to incur someone's wrath upon reading these words. Later, albeit with a much smaller budget, the crumpled beat and frosty keys of "Colour Of Moonlight (Antiochus)" even manage to recall the weirder elements of Björk`s Biophilia.
Belonging to a more subtle realm, "Skin" is perhaps most surprising of all however, as amid such Avant posturing and playful futurism Boucher's gentle coherency, restrained keyboards/synths and super-charged falsetto seem Siren-like, tinged with both hopelessness and an inexorable sense of allure.
Everywhere you look, Visions is bursting with possibility and experimentation: be that with the trancelike "Be A Body", Boucher's looping skills and her sometimes chipmunk-esque mewing, or indeed the momentarily neo-classical "Nightmusic" during which Boucher this time affects a sanity-questioning and whispered rap on top of textural choral backing.
Though there may be nothing to quite rival the impact nor immediacy of Halfaxa`s stand-out "Sagrad ''''''''''", Visions' only real fault is in its own pluralisation; Boucher is no longer simply writing songs, she's transmuting a singular vision through her Grimes persona - and currently she can see light years further than almost anyone else.
Advised downloads: "Skin" and "Oblivion".