Some days music owns you. Sometimes you come across a piece of music that literally stops you in your tracks. As each phrase passes you don’t move an inch, voluntarily paralyzed, for fear of missing or accidentally drowning out some subtle nuance. This music reaches deeper than other music. Rachel Grimes’ latest release, Marion County 1938, is this kind of music.
Chamber music isn’t exactly the first thing to jump to the front of the line when you think of styles of indie music, but yet, here it is. As a member of 90’s chamber ensemble Rachel’s, Grimes’ piano served as the backbone of a group who dropped modern classical music squarely in the laps of post-rock disciples and indie-rockers everywhere. In 2009 Grimes released an excellent solo album called Book of Leaves; with the arrival of the EP Marion County 1938, Grimes has achieved a new level with her composition.
Marion County 1938 is a 3-song composition commissioned as a score for the 1938 silent film Our Day, by Wallace Kelly. The film is a simple document of one family’s day doing very typical things. When set to Grimes’ score the film becomes anything but typical. The opening track “Halcyon Hill” features delicate piano passages coupled with clarinet and oboe. This composition has the magical ability of being melancholy, joyous, and nostalgic all at once. “Earthly Heaven” and “In the Parlor” continue these themes while becoming playful and whimsical at points.
Modern classical composers can easily fall through cracks of the modern music landscape, but Rachel Grimes is one that deserves your time. Listening to Marion County 1938 is a humbling experience, well worth a few quiet moments from your day. Marion County 1938 is available as a DVD that includes the film as well as the audio files for the score and other Wallace Kelly films. You can find it on Grimes’ Bandcamp page for $8, so please don’t delay.