Tuesday 23 October 2012

Graingerboy - Shadowformerself

Album review by KevW

It's about time Adam Grainger got around to putting a solo album together. Having spent twenty years as part of UK electronic music's underground and occasionally glimpsing chart success (he was one half of Electric Boutique who cracked the top 40 with 'Revolution' and was also a performing member with A Man Called Adam) he'll most likely have the numbers of a few superstar DJs in his address book. If you're expecting his debut outing as Graingerboy to be some Balearic 90s flashback then think again. Scenes and musicians, particularly in electronic or 'dance' music move on, their original mission remains the same today: to create new and unique sounds, not dwell on the past or get swept up in nostalgia and rehash old ideas. It's difficult to know exactly how to pinpoint the sound Graingerboy's aiming for on this record, and that's no doubt a good thing as far as he's concerned.

What we can be sure of is that club bangers or chillout are not part of the equation; both are older than many of this record's potential target audience, so they would have no place on a forward thinking album. Naturally some of these tracks are chilled and some are designed for the dancefloor, just not in a stereotypical or old fashioned way. 'Shadowformerself' comprises more of choppy, experimental beats and unorthodox rhythms, with a large portion of the music taking the form of songs as opposed to soundscapes; this is a very vocal album, filled with lyrics that are often evocative and desolate. The bleak piano ballad 'Plasticine' speaks of cold destruction and 'Threecrowns', although introducing some stammering beats, also deals with cities falling down and people being brought to their knees, like some final musical offering before the apocalypse.

There's plenty of dark trip-hop here, 'Lastchristmaseve' being a particularly potent example and the first sign that Graingerboy could be a force to be reckoned with. 'Vintage (Jagz Kooner Mix)' is the only euphoric dance track on the album and it's a definite highlight despite feeling out of place on such a stark and experimental record, but balance is soon restored with the robotic 'Pmcm'. Much of 'Shadowforerself' sounds like the product of a cold, dark urban environment with the stark first half of 'Metropolis' perhaps summing things up before the addition of some beats and electronic pulses lightens the load. There are more cold and industrial moods to come, like the forlorn 'Georgia' and the pessimistic yet oddly uplifting 'Summersend'. Graingerboy's album might not be the most welcoming or easy to listen to set of tunes you'll hear all year, but it impresses regardless, and given time it should just about win you over with its eclectic innovation.

Graingerboy's website

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