Having just released her first record for Young God Records “Parplar,” Larkin Grimm has been busily playing East Cosat shows and making new music. In between triumphant shows in Philly and NYC she was invited to record withSwedish pop musician Liv-Marit Bergman along with Jens Lekman and Frida Hyvonen November 7. Otto Hauser played drums.
“I was a sculptor in college, then I went though a time when I didn’t want to create waste so I began to sculpt musically,” reveals Larkin Grimm. The vocalist and string instrument connoisseur (guitar, dulcimer, ukulele, violin, etc) is a musical anomaly. “My music is shaped by my inner compass. When I go to record I haven’t got an idea of what will happen until it’s happening.” The feminist, anarchist, Yale graduate might be on a different page than most (born on a commune, seeks guidance from a shaman, subscribes to Playboy) yet her music remains relatable. Grimm’s album, Parlar, features eccentric, folksy acoustics tickled by the zen-ful sounds of nature, and a voice that ranges from the most angelic of whispers to the most Joplin of cries. With plans to tour the southeast this December, Grimm won’t even hint at what listeners should expect. “Music is such a sensual experience to me. I am guided by the vibrations of strings, if it feels right I go with it” Heather Simon/Relix.com 11/6
LARKIN GRIMM’s story has all the makings of an American folk princess fairy tale; that is, if Hunter S Thompson and Jack Kerouac were writing it as a Tim Burton screenplay. Born to artistic and multi-cultural parents (who were also longtime members of the Holy Order of the MANS religious cult), Grimm was set early to become either another casualty of weirdness and The Struggle (Fringe Edition), or to morph into something unique and darkly vivacious that mainstream society could never hope to spawn or to understand. Fortunately for us she chose the latter.
In addition to the hippy parents and extended cult family of her formative years, Grimm is in the incongruous position of having both corporate America and blue-blood New England aristocracy to thank for paving part of the way for her journey. Grimm’s adolescent education came courtesy the Coca-Cola corporation in the form of a boarding-school scholarship for gifted Appalachian children; and another scholarship at the prestigious Yale University followed. She would take a few detours before finally completing her studies there though, including a trek across Alaska; studying the massage arts in Thailand; a stint living among eco-warriors and other tree-hugger types in a Washington commune; and an encounter with a Native American shaman that provided the catalyst for Grimm finding her musical muse among the forest sprites and spirits. Try and top that with the best fantasy novel you can find!
Today Grimm calls Rhode Island home, and has to her credit several studio releases chronicling the evolution of her unique sound. Her latest ‘Parplar’ demonstrates a level of compositional and technical maturity that bodes well for her future as an American folk treasure.
Musical comparisons are usually imprecise and sometimes border on insulting, but those who find themselves connecting to the likes of Josephine Foster, Buffy Sainte-Marie or Faun Fables will likely embrace Larkin Grimm just as eagerly. Bob Moore/Progarchives.com 11/10
Larkin Grimm is another find by Swans/Angels of Light/Young Gods records
main man Michael Gira. OParplarÂ¹ is her third album after a pair for the
Secret Eye label that stretch out the folk music idiom to bleak and unusual
Unlike Akron/Family and Devendra Banhart, GiraÂ¹s other notable discoveries,
but much like the man himself, GrimmÂ¹s motivating spirit comes from a dark,
Sometimes morose, sometimes jovial, the music is heavily repetitious, as are
the lyrics, but the effect is more meditative than tedious. It owes a heavy
debt to the Oold weird AmericaÂ² documented on Harry SmithÂ¹s ‘Anthology of
American Music’. In addition to GrimmÂ¹s own fingerpicking, a host of
Brooklyn musicians help out, including some of Angels of Light and Old Time
Grimm stakes out a fair piece of her ground on the first two numbers.
As OParplarÂ¹ begins, Grimm stretches out the question “Who told you youÂ¹re
going to be all right?” to a slow crawl over a descending three-note riff,
while mournful violins stretch out below her bitter intonation of the songÂ¹s
title: “They were wrong.”
The brisk gallop of ORide That CycloneÂ¹ lures the listener in with a more
upbeat tone, drawing to a small degree on the bounce of Balkan brass music,
but itÂ¹s a rough ride, with broken bones lurking in the lyrics.
For maximum oddity, thereÂ¹s ODominican RumÂ¹, a twisted updated barroom tune:
Â³YouÂ¹re going to die anyway, so let me kill you nice!Â² a giddy Grimm demands
while regaling the listener with tales of silicone breasts, nuclear war,
glowing black babies, hungry panthers and nasty birth control side effects.
Sometimes the sound is peculiarly twee and lo-fi, as on the high-pitched
sing-song of OMina MinouÂ¹, on other occasions itÂ¹s lushly accented with
cello and backing vocals as on ODurgeÂ¹.
Grimm keeps the album together with her steely voice Â in an era dominated
by warbling songbirds, Grimm almost always keeps dead steady, though she
does allow it to waver a bit while regaling a lost lover with the wish that
heÂ¹s Â³suffering and lostÂ² in the final track, OHope for the HopelessÂ¹.
ItÂ¹s a peculiarly enchanting album which offers one of the most successful
updates of Oold-timey musicÂ¹ on offer today.Andrew Carver/ pennyblackmusic.co.uk
ThereÂ¹s nothing grim about this collection
Grimm opens this record like a hard to like acolyte of Devendra Banhart but
she soon outstrips him, she passes and presses all manner of genres
squeezing the ordinary to extract the magical. Her voice swoops, seduces,
screeches, soothes, charms and at times her tongue twists through your
auditory canal and tickles your brain. “Blond and Golden John” twitters and
chimes, the relaxed sensual “Dominican Rum” has playful waves of barrelhouse
piano at odds with the lyrics that at one point describe the pus emanating
from her uterus (did I mention sheÂ¹s earthy too). The breadth of her
experience from hippy commune to Yale, Guatemala, the Appalachian Mountains
and Thailand leeches into the songs, twisting them always away from the
mundane and towards the exotic, “Parplar” sounds like it was recorded in a
rainforest where displaced New Orleans jazzmen are recuperating.
Oriental influences splash but donÂ¹t swamp – “My Justine” it sounds like
Chinese folk music being played over a Steve Reich small group piece and it
is compelling and strangely beautiful. Appalachia thrusts its mountainous
head into “Fall On My Knees” a rubbery hoedown, speaking tongues and tape
manipulation make “How to Catch a Lizard” sound like something a modern
Alice in Wonderland would sing after she has stepped through the looking
glass. The album feels like a journey and it takes the closing “Hope for the
Hopeless” the most conventional song here to remid the listener what a
diverse and thrilling ride it was. David Cowling/Americana-UK.com 10/31