Reset –  Grinded Grin (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Aleksandar Vrhovec is certainly a name that we have come across on this site before. We have encountered his more accessible and perhaps even chart friendly side with LucidFer and the more intricate and progressive moments with Acid Hags. And if, as you step from one to the other, you find yourself moving into ever more experimental realms, Reset is the stepping stone that takes you  even further into more intriguing and wonderfully strange sonic landscapes.

It is an album that is impossible to second-guess, happily genre-hopping from the sublime to the ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous in the best sense of the word –  ridiculously broad in scope, ridiculously proficient, ridiculously imaginative – sometimes offering sweet harmony, other times more avant-garde explorations. Aleksandar himself describes the album as “not radio-friendly” but I disagree, it’s just that the 11 tracks found here each belong on 11 different radio stations and then probably in the hands of some late night DJ champion of the new, off-beat and left-field working the graveyard shift to a small but dedicated crowd.

Songs such as Deducted feel like a blend of radio-interference, rhythmic interludes and dystopian soundtracks and it is such unpredictability and a desire to work outside the mainstream norms that really define the nature of the album. By contrast it is followed by Wretch pt.1’s shimmering beauty, a classical sounding lullaby of harp strings, acoustic guitars and piano lines that subtly and supplely wrap around each other to charming effect. Move on again and Pond Spinning sees the album venture into more muscular rock territory, squalling blues and soulful saxophones reminding us that rock and roll used to be about substance rather than having the right haircut and designer clothes. (Although I’ve not checked Grinded Grin’s sartorial trappings, I’m sure that the music comes first.) And it is such a triptych of musical styles that acts as a perfect calling card for the expansive and exploratory nature of this fascinating album.

Bubbles delivers some wonderful uptown, urbane jazz infused grooves, solo trumpet taking the spotlight with just the bare minimum of instruments building a structure around it, a vocal line in its own right offering the same range of emotions and communication as a lyrical voice. Time-Lapse takes that same late night jazz club feel but then warps it through more industrial sounds, the result being a strange merging of the smooth with the rough, delicacy with devastation, into something that there is yet to be an easy generic pigeon-hole or label to best describe it. Good! Genres are dead and it is only lazy journalists like myself (ironically) and the easily led that even have a use for them.

Jackie’s Dream is a weird amalgam of plaintive piano and ….well, I don’t really know what that foreground sound is,  it sounds a bit rude, a bit anatomical if you ask me, and the album bows out with the wonderfully psychedelic sounds of Densely, all skittering beats and space rock meanderings.

We live in a world where music is sold by the track rather than by the album and for all its musically fractured nature and ability to go off script at a moments notice, Reset is an album that really has to be appreciated in its entirety. Only then will you understand what a wonderful piece of work it is. How contrasting and courageous, how intricate and interesting, how consistently strange and strangely consistent, how post-…. well, post-everything it is.

Okay, it is never going to find its way into the mainstream music charts but that is the fault of the charts rather than Grinded Grin. After all Dan Brown is one of the best selling writers in the world and just look at how terrible his work is! Is it better to deliver amazing creativity to a small and discerning audience or to toe the line, play the game, follow the rules and sell a million? Discuss….

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