Grand River ~ All Above

Tears leak from Aimée Portioli’s eyes as she looks to the sky, surrounded by a cascade of water.  Her left hand rests on her right shoulder, as if in supplication.  When matched with the album title ~ All Above ~ and the dedication to recently deceased Editions Mego founder Peter Rehberg, the album seems a requiem.  While there is no grand scheme to Grand River, neither is there a need to dispel such impressions.  The gorgeous “Human” video underlines the pathos with piano, subdued choir and images of water returning to the sea.  As Marco Ciceri’s images change from mist to flow, a simultaneous falling and rising, the music changes from modern composition to melodic electronics.  Everything must change.

This includes the timbre, which has already shifted from the abstract piano of the opening track and incorporates abraded speech on “Petrichor.”  At heart, the composer is a pianist, but on this album the musical background is as important as the foreground.  Ambient synth dominates “The World at Number XX,” but even as the instruments rotate, a consistent tone remains: searching, striving, seeking to define the indefinable.  One might consider the tracks as the scriptures of different faiths, speaking of the same deep well.  If not for this unifying facet, the album might seem convoluted; instead, it seems dignified, especially when Portioli starts to speak late in “Kura,” the defining start of the second side.

The second half of “In the Present As the Future” develops a danceable pulse, and the closer, “Cost What It May,” revels in electric guitar.  Such diversity honors Rehberg, as Editions Mego has never been “just” an electronic label.  The vision he championed is reality today, thanks to artists such as Grand River, who sacrifice linear narrative in an attempt to reach something higher and greater, perhaps even divine.  (Richard Allen)

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