Sense and Nonsense: Grimm Grimm v Great Rack

Wednesday 24 March 2021

We’ve been through all this before: music isn’t supposed to make sense. Koichi Yamanoha aka Grimm Grimm has produced a sweet little EP of six tracks recorded at home in London last year titled Recalling. Each is an evocative little sketch of a place in memory and none of it has to match up in anyone’s head besides Yamanoha, but for the listener it’s all delightfully incongruous. Tastefully moody synth pads suddenly escalate with great drama for no reason, then a ditzy, grimy organ waltz is titled “Making My Eyes Bleed”, then syrupy preset synths play oddly beguiling lobby music. The remaining vignettes are equally vivid while affectively ambiguous. Thinking back, I wonder how much it refers to movie soundtracks (if so, it would be one particularly crazy cult favourite) or to video game music (no, it’s all too earnest and sounds too scuzzy), but then listening to it again I realise it resists all attempts to conform to even the most electic definitions.

Great Rack’s sample pack is presented on Bandcamp as a name-your-price album but it comes with a creative comments licence and a readme file that invites you to “feel free to use the samples in however way you feel”. Sure enough, there are 100 tracks that fly by in about 13 minutes, all made with Great Rack’s alter ego Emily Bennett’s voice, a bunch of her friends and a lot of rackmount reverb. Tracks range from the wry to the inane, with a Duchampian ear for the eloquently inconsequential. Absurdities pile up. Tracks are either too short to be tracks (0.145 seconds) or samples are too long to be samples (3 minutes plus of ominous grooves). Many are contrived to defy any standard ADSR envelope (one is a brief, arbitrary list of suburbs in Melbourne) and become koans for listener and musician alike. The tracklist starts with titles, sort of, then resort to standard sample names: “056 E.Bass 2” is hilariously inappropriate, “065 String 1” is hilariously appropriate. A collection so intractable that it makes trying to listen to it fun, and makes trying to create (more) music from it an irresistable challenge.