n interesting thread on a message board that I sometimes post at was started a few days ago talking about the expectation on an artist to create 10-12 songs that are great every year. Any professional pop songwriter should be expected to produce such product for the band's new album, most people postulate, since it is their job. In fact, one of the greatest pop albums of all time, Pet Sounds, was The Beach Boys tenth album in a four year span. And it's almost guaranteed that there is going to be filler on the albums, no one can write 10-12 classics every year, surely. But overall, The Beach Boys were some of the most prolific songwriters during the early Sixties. So, should we hold this same ideal up to IDM? Should artists be expected to put out an album once a year and have each song be regarded as classic, in some way?
Traditional theory would say no. There is no reason to expect a genre built on the ethos of creating new forms, should have no boundaries and no expectations that were built for other artists of another time. But, who can deny that Aphex Twin's I Care Because You Do is a collection of 10-12 great songs that are merely a little longer than the traditional pop song length? As much as IDM builds itself to be regarded as something new and different, the most popular artists of the genre are actually firmly rooted in making pop music that is fit for consumption. This may not be the strain of IDM that some people are into, of course, but it would follow that those artists are not in the music business for a way to make money, they are merely there to make music/art.
So, what of The Grace Period in all of this? On their website they firmly state that the album Dynasty is full of filler, no different than 99% of albums released this year. And before I had time to groan, the group makes the point that these are real people making this music. If they had the money and didn't have to worry about such "silly" things like phone bills and the electricity going off, they might go into the studio for three months and come out with a product that was equal to the time put into it. That's not to say that The Grace Period didn't put a lot of time and effort into their music- they did. It's just that it's not their job and they are just doing this as a way to present some good music to the rest of the world- no strings attached, no art movements to consider, no brain cells need to expended finding out what it all means, maaaan.
And on their debut album for Audio Dregs, The Grace Period do just do that. Loops bustle up against each other fighting for space in the tracks. The drums are relatively bombastic and seem to be almost from your favorite classic rock tracks, but these are tempered by the atmospheric backgrounds provided by short synthesized basslines and melodies that permeate the tracks. Most of the songs follow the same sort of formula throughout the album: a voice sample starts the track off, a melodic sample (usually guitar) is brought in, and then the drums. Each element is taken out every once in a while for variance, but it seems to be a typical style that we're dealing with here. In such a situation where the song structure is much the same, the elements that are contained within the structure determine whether the song is successful now. On 'Boring Arial Layout,' the echoed drums and the melodic sample providing the background come together to provide an engaging listen and the same is true on the album opener 'Paris Au Printemps,' which mixes a French women and Bonham-like drumming over its 3 and half minute length.
Far from sounding like your typical IDM auteurs who are fascinated with the newest VST plug in, The Grace Period use live sounding drums that are relatively untreated throughout the course of the record. It's almost refreshing to hear drums that are normal sounding, in comparision to the unplayable patterns of Squarepusher and other breakbeat terrorists. All in all, it's clear that The Grace Period is not trying to innovate with this album, but it is clear that, taken with a clear head, it's a damn fun time.