Let me just confess this: i am hopelessly white. I enjoy electronic
music (moreso than any other Minion), but i just don't get rap.
I mean, i like the sound collage that is hip-hop, but i find
the toneless rhymes layered overtop to be, well, annoying. As
such, i really like instrumental hip-hop, but that's a pretty
I mention all of this because, no matter what people have told
you, The Grace Period are a hip-hop act. An instrumental hip-hop
act, in that there is no rapper. Obvious comparision points
are DJ Shadow, some of the funkier work of Tleilaxu, or US3.
This is to say that the music of The Grace Period is defined
by drum / rhythm loops taken from older recordings. Over this
The Grace Period layer funny vocal samples (apparently, they
took a tape recorder to a party and recorded their friends),
interesting guitar pieces, spacey keyboard bits, and, well,
all kinds of stuff.
Quite honestly, i find this album to be fascinating -- there
is so much going on, so much to listen to. Apparently there
are two people in this act, Chris Ott (who used to write for
the anti-Malimus conglomerate Pitchfork)
and somebody named "Julie". I don't know who is responsible
for constructing the rhythm loops that make up the core of the
songs, but that person has some real talent. The drum loops
are what really make the album.
Perhaps the prime example of what The Grace Period are capable
of comes on Et In Arcadia Ego, midway through the album.
This song starts with an ethereal keyboard chime looped, and
then huge frenetic drum beats thunder in. Deeply buried in the
mix is a female voice speaking in French. That's pretty much
the song, and i know that it doesn't sound like much when you
read it, but this tune captures the sheer intimidating majesty
of life in a dramatic way that reminds me of What Does Your
Soul Look Like?, DJ Shadow's masterpiece in four parts.
It's great listening -- funky, yet relaxing. It portrays a lot
of emotion by building up a mass of sound from simple elements.
The sampled and looped drum parts seem alive in a way that
a drum machine doesn't, and that is part of what i like about
this band. I like that they sound sample-based, but are entirely
lacking the cold mechanical feel that much electronica has.
It's the drum loops that do this i know -- somebody really played
those drums at some point, and The Grace Period are simply cutting
a small piece of a drum performance and re-structuring it. I
say simply, but i suspect that this music is more difficult
than it at first seems. Otherwise, well, more people would be
Moving on, although all of the songs are pretty good, there
is another stunning track on the album. I Can See My Breath
also stands out above the crowd. Here, The Grace Period combine
postively head-on "beat the tar out of the drum kit" loops with
echoey guitar. Again, a simple combination that really works.
I like the juxtaposition of the spacey-ness of the guitar with
the concrete reality of the intense drumming.
What strikes me most about The Grace Period is the simplistic
combination of the music. That is, there are two loops playing
against one another, and some samples strewn over the top. It's
not a lot of "content", but it creates a rich, full sound. What
it is, really, is collage, pure and simple, and that's why i
call it instrumental hip-hop.
Anyway, this is a cool album. I am very impressed, and look
forward to hearing more from this act in the future. And, given
the "hip-hop" nature of the act, i feel that i should end with