In Review: Grimes - Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition)
I have a hard time with Grimes. Musically I like her, in an Opus III kind of way. I don’t think that she has released the kind of music that justifies the universal praise she is given but there is something about her songs that gets under your skin. They have conventional motifs but are peppered with a more avant-garde leaning. As a person I find more problematic. Her recent comments about parenthood and claiming her five-month-old son enjoys radical art like Apocalypse Now makes me laugh. As a parent I can attest that as a new-born my daughter would sleep through Lou Reed’s seminal and much maligned Metal Machine Music, drone/white noise is great for babies, but as a toddler she’s all about Winnie the Pooh and nursery rhymes. The other day I was listening to something slightly abstract while I worked. She walked into the room, shook her head, and walked out saying “No Daddy…”. But I digress. This isn’t about my daughter, it’s about Grimes. And more importantly her latest release, Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition).
Effectively a remix of her recent fifth album, and as with all remix albums, it’s patchy. When it works, the tracks are enhanced and taken to a place hitherto unthought of. When it doesn’t work, it’s just a prolonged 4/4 beat behind her vocals - the Channel Tres remix of ‘Delete Forever’, we’re talking about you here. One of the standout tracks is Richie Hawtin’s remix of ‘Darkseid’. For 10 and a half minutes the minimal beat swells until it is all consuming. ‘Darkseid’ is a total monster and if you heard this played out it would go off, but at times though, it feels like a beat/backing track Hawtin had that he segued Grimes’ music into. This is no diss to either Hawtin or Grimes, but just how it feels.
To break up the remixes the original versions of ‘4ÆM’ and ‘Before the Fever’ are included in their entirety. This both works for the album and feels odd. It works as ‘4ÆM’ was one of the dancier moments on the original Miss Anthropocene release, so commissioning a remix of it, when the original is pretty great feels odd, but traditional remixes albums feature all the tracks remixed, so its omission also feels odd. Maybe I’m being harsh and employing the rule of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”, but it’s lack of remix doesn’t quite sit right. That said, Modeselektor’s remix of ‘IDORU’ is about as good as it gets. ‘IDORU’ has enough of the original’s filigree pop melodies with Grimes’ lilting vocals over a slightly harder backing track and immediately makes up for the original versions of ‘4ÆM’ and ‘Before the Fever’.
Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition) does nothing to diminish Grimes’ artistic accomplishments nor is it unenjoyable, but at the end of the day it is just another remix album. Very few remixes ever surpass the originals and sadly none of the remixes get close to doing that. This might be one best left to the Grimes completists rather than casual fans.
Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition) is out now on 4AD.