Astrïd & Rachel Grimes – Through The Sparkle

Astrïd & Rachel Grimes – Through The Sparkle

As the nominative leader of Louisville legends Rachel’s, Rachel Grimes can certainly take a large chunk of credit for broadening the horizons of many post-rock aficionados into more classical views between 1991 and 2005.  Outside of her influential canon with Rachel’s, Grimes has continually spread her talents more widely; with guest spots on records from the likes of Watter, Tara Jane O’Neil and Memory Drawings, a steady stream of solo records and multiple modern classical projects.  Now appears another adjunct to her already sizeable body of work, through this new collaboration with French ensemble Astrïd.

Satisfyingly, the resultant wordless Through The Sparkle could be one of the most generously giving – and arguably one of the most accessible – Grimes-related partnerships to date.  Although her probing and plaintive piano lines are a constant fulcrum throughout, this is still very much a group affair, with Astrïd’s Cyril Secq (guitars et al.), Yvan Ros (drums/percussion), Guillaume Wickel (clarinet et al.) and Vanina Andréani (violin et al.) all integral to the LP’s overall construction.

However, Through The Sparkle is not a cluttered collection, as its spacious studio ambience and broad yet intimate vistas verify.  The opening of “The Herald En Masse” conjures a commanding mood, which the record sustains in varying forms, with an insistent baroque prowl sat somewhere between now labelmates Last Harbour and Hex-era Bark Psychosis.  In its wake, the mesmeric “M5” arises with a desolate low-end twangscape akin to Brokeback’s first two albums before spreading out into a warmer coda of Steve Reich-like layered repetitions.  Thereafter, the album masterfully moves through the haunted-house mysteries of “The Theme”; the rippling and swirling minimalism-meets-discordance of the mass-building “Mossgrove & Seaweed”; the Another Green World vs. Laughing Stock ambient-jazz abstractions of “Hollis”; the moonlit folk ruminations-to-chamber music segues of “M1”; and the closing violin-led introspections of “Le Petit Salon”.

With playing that is deft and demonstrative as well as delicate and driven, the gathered compositions within Through The Sparkle capture both Rachel Grimes and Astrïd in a sophisticated yet inviting conjoining.  This is a must for fans of either contingent’s extant fanbases whilst being highly welcoming to newcomers.

Gizeh Records