Neo-classical pianist Rachel Grimes of Louisville, Kentucky ensemble Rachel’s has finally released her first album of solo piano pieces, “Body of Leaves”, courtesy of Karate Body Records. It’s a refined collection of expressive and wistful vignettes reminiscent of her work with Jason Noble and Christian Frederickson in their Rachel’s outfit, yet Grimes’ own compositions are more somber and intimate – as if we’ve been invited to her Louisville farmhouse for a private performance in the living room, with occasional sounds of the outside world blowing through the window to join in her sparse arrangements.
I had always been partial to classical music while growing up, but it wasn’t until I first heard Rachel’s “Music for Egon Schiele” in 1996 that I realized it could also be so cool. “Egon Schiele” and “The Sea and the Bells” were watershed albums in the world of indie and post-rock, taking the beauty of classical composition and smashing it together with the lo-fi aesthetic of indie to create some of the most innovative rock/chamber music of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Now ten years later, modern classical and ambient albums based around piano are released almost daily, but the avant-garde Rachel’s band were the definitive forerunners . . . and so a proper solo album from Grimes was a long time coming, and even though it has none of the sweeping grandeur of Rachel’s multi-instrumentation, Grimes’ subtle yet plaintive piano work will not dissapoint.
As I write this, it is lightly snowing outside the window, and the absorbing track “Bloodroot” is playing on my stereo. “Book of Leaves” was released in the fall of last year and totally has an autumnal feel to it, but it’s also proving to be the perfect soundtrack to a calm and snowy night in January. Check it.