By Samir Shukla
The compositions in Rachel Grimes’ new recording, The Clearing (Temporary Residence), evoke various moods. The pianist and composer taps the musical possibilities of the theme “air” in several works including the short opener “The Air,” the full tracks “The Air of Place,” “The Air in Time,” “The Air in her Heart,” and “The Air in Time.” Each instrumental plays on subtle variations, but stitches the recording into a musical whole. The music sets a somber mood, a film score in waiting if you will, while guiding the listener through the shadowy junctures of classical, neoclassical, jazz and chamber music. The Clearing moves along at its own pace. The pieces unwrap at their leisure, sometimes minimalist, sometimes building on repetition, where the instrumentation, including strings, harp, woodwinds, and percussion meld with Grimes’ piano to comforting effect. She uses shades of dissonance to her advantage. The dual tracks, “Transverse Plane Vertical” and “Transverse Plane Horizon,” use bits of chamber and improv jazz clamor to loosen the senses that may have been lulled by other compositions. The Kentucky-based Grimes previously played with the genre-defying chamber-rock combo Rachel’s and has worked with numerous collaborators in various ensembles.