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Such a Vision: Grace Sings Sludge's Red Light Museum

Posted by Kells, November 24, 2014 07:14pm | Post a Comment
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photo via sludgegrace.tumblr.com

There are plenty of divas and dime-a-dozen darlings moving through the vanity fair on any given day, but there is only one Grace Cooper in existence. An artist, singer, and songwriter known in part for her countless collaborations with local visionaries and troubadours aplenty, as well as for her contributions as one-third of the oft celebrated and much missed Bay Area "girl band" The Sandwitches, Grace has lately released a new collection of songs as Grace Sings Sludge, an alias that serves as a monicker for her mostly-solo show, one that is apparently executed entirely on her own terms.

Following up from her past two Grace Sings Sludge releases with San Francisco’s Secret Seven Records, This Time It’s Personal and Last Year’s Friend, this new self-released album, Red Light Museum (via Empty Cellar), is a heady potion of lust, devotion, and darkened encounters that seems to be a more disturbed affair compared its predecessors, in a good way. One bewitching example of this is the opening track, "Difficult to Luv," what begins as an intimate, barely-there rhythmic apparition that slowly slips it's limbs around you, easing into a slow-handed throbbing inquisition for the "Jesus Christ of love" -- see the cattitudes aplenty video for the song, below:




What follows is the equally spooky "Bullshit Ceremony" wherein the temporal, body-rocking aspect of obsessive love is laid bare but not wanting as the song progresses along in semi-minimal strums that seem to meander by measure as Grace's ghostly vocal layers intertwine, crooning, "just making him hate me, as if I wanted him to." Luckily there is a video for this song as well -- a montage that appears to be comprised of photographic images of walls, walls, and more walls in various states of decay, altogether looking like a collection of accidental captures lifted from the spent rolls of some ghost hunter's film archive. It works: 




But the otherworldly ebb and flow, music video in tow, doesn't stop there. Sadly, as if the weight of this evidently already burdened little low-flying record couldn't get heavier, the most recently released video in support of Red Light Museum, for "Such A Vision," is in itself a bittersweet memorial to Grace's close friend, co-star, and director of the VHS-shot visual, Johnnie Roberto Russell, to whose memory it is lovingly dedicated.





And yet the album isn't entirely a cloth woven of sparse distortions, twangy somber refrains, and subtle reminders that this invitation into Grace's most private spaces is not to be taken at face value. That is to say the album seems to have a happy ending, or as happy an ending as possible given the privy confines of its genesis, in that it ends with an affirmation punctuated by a definitive love note.
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As with her other Grace Sings Sludge releases, Red Light Museum is presently available as a limited edition cassette, the once and future DIY format du jour, with original cover art by Grace. Each tape is hand-numbered in sharpie and comes with a special small piece of unique, hand-drawn artwork fashioned by Grace herself. Needless to say it here, if you happen see one of these in the wild, like, say, at Amoeba Music in San Francisco, you should totally snatch it up ASAP! 

For more visionary emissions, moods, and emotions à la Grace Sings Sludge, do visit her tumblr page or, even better, get yourself out to one of her rare live performances (would that there was a date to plug) and find out for yourself what kind of singular sensation she is.
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Red Light Museum (1), Sandwitches (17), Grace Sings Sludge (5), Empty Cellar (3)