Something Secret

By Michael Kemp, Poet, 17 December 2007

Cries of Desolation

The most enjoyable collaboration of 2007 has to be this bewitching encounter between jazz vocalist Carol Grimes and exotic percussionist & instrument inventor Giles Perring. Nine tracks, recorded in locations as diverse as Deptford and the Isle of Jura (not to mention Greenwich Foot Tunnel) - collected together here as "Something Secret".

This is extraordinary work. The counterplay between Grimes' voice - whispering,cajoling, consoling, accusing - and Perring's instinctive rhythms & intuitive percussive touches, make for exhilarating listening; sailing far closer to the edge of the avant-garde than any of Carol Grimes' previous work. Spiky guitar figures, trances, arcane texts: "heart beating, mouth singing, hands waving".

Looped voices, lap steel guitars, wah-wah bells, footsteps, glockenspiel and small pipes - all casting their potent spells and incantations, binding us all closer together with the timbre of her searing, passionate, vocals; as though her life depended on it. Hidden maps, voyages of discovery, sacred texts, set to the wind...

The music gathered here within "Something Secret" is an infusion, a veritable stampede of perfumes, shadows, spirits, dervishes, Rimbaud sighted in the ghost of Camden Town bookshops, amulets, charms, potions; music from the other side of the curtain. A series of stunning, stark, Caligari-esque landscapes to wander through, picking dark fruit... Why these bitter stories, still unspoken - why do I believe in us?"

The spinning piano mobile of "Steps" (featuring accordions, cunningly disguised as bagpipes, on the song-within-a-song, "Lord Lovat's Lament") - and the tapestry of intertwined voices that is the closing track, "Earth Poem", weaving their way through the dark night of the soul to a rousing, and spiritual, climax. An experimental album from Grimes and Perring, certainly; but easily accessible to those with ears to hear...

A fascinating aural journey, more than worth the taking; and the constant revisiting.