Silent Universe EP
30:16 min • Independent • June 10, 2013
Nick Smith reviews
Graingerboy, aka Simon Grainger, is a rather well-respected electronic music producer from Leeds and is perhaps best known as a keyboardist and backing vocalist for A Man Called Adam as well as his chart success as one half of Electric Boutique. He burst onto the scene last year with his first solo offering Shadowformerself, an abstract, left-field record which made the top 30 of the influential Zzub DMC World Network Chart.
The first track of his second solo EP Silent Universe, ‘Cheaper Than A Taxi Home’, opens with an epic, filthy bass line befitting of a track that tells of a one-night stand. This is buttressed by an etchy and obscure vocal and the listener is tricked into an ambient breakdown smacking of Air’s ‘Kelly Watch The Stars’ before being walloped with a dancey chorus. This is Grainger at his most diverse. The track begins almost stripped bare, but spins into a glitzy shimmer of a chorus with the female vocal lending further credence to the song’s ambiguity before weaving in and out of the guitar-driven verses.
If the morning comes then you better not tell a soul,
Harder than it looks but it’s cheaper than a taxi home –
Grainger then lends his wizadry to Stina Nordenstam’s ‘Trainsurfing’ with a softer, more placid delivery against a backdrop of dazzling ambient, beckoning synth ripples. It’s a less punchy affair than the original and pulsates into a soaring and beguiling chorus.
‘Summersend’ is a mid-tempo dance track evoking Saint Etienne at their edgiest and most haunting. Grainger’s vocal is striking against the backdrop of heddy strings and synth riffs telling of a love beginning to grow. There is a healing quality to this track that is truly wonderful,
So calm, so gently,
What a summer, disappointing, til you came through,
‘Til you came through, thank you –
Graingerboy’s innovative, layered and circumspect approach is breathing welcome fresh air into the vast lungs of the electronic genre.
‘Flying Solo’ is easily the EP’s standout track brimming with mainstream appeal and a spoken vocal that not many can pull off with such aplomb and emotional punch. The ethereal, uplifting synth riffs would suggest a bittersweet optimism for a relatable lament to a lost love.
‘Be Forever’ is a magnificent retro ’80s affair tinged with shades of Moroder, Gossip and Human League and is a sanguine denouement to this rather cathartic EP, which comes with two bonus tracks. ‘Last Shop Standing’, a mesmerising, abridged ode to the death of the record shop and a redux of ‘Vintage’, from Shadwoformerself, a huge disco-electronica anthem with a lot of ingenious components in the mix.
Grainger’s mournful and solid songwriting sets him far apart from his peers with his unique sonic blueprint of musical diversity. He seems quite impossible to pigeonhole, which in our world of manufactured artists and repackaged Greatest Hits is entirely invigorating. The boy did not only do good. He did better.