Rachel Grimes


Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. She has toured the US, Europe and Asia as a solo pianist, and as a collaborator with chamber ensembles, such as Portland Cello Project, astrïd, Cicada, Amsterdam Sinfonietta trio, and Orchestra Kandinskij. Rachel has performed her compositions at some of the world’s most diverse music festivals including All Tomorrow’s Parties (curated by Shellac), P Festival in Taiwan, CrossLinx in Netherlands, Approximation Festival in Germany and Big Ears in Knoxville, TN. She is a member of Louisville rock band, King’s Daughters & Sons (Chemikal Underground) and a founding member of the ground-breaking indie-rock chamber ensemble Rachel’s, with whom she toured and released six albums (Quarterstick / Touch & Go).

Unhurried, at times fleeting, and stretching into the sky, The Clearing is a winding path of transient moments exploring personal memory, relationships, and mystery from a deeply internal place. The album on Temporary Residence Ltd. features a wide spectrum of textures in strings, harp, piano, woodwinds, and percussion. Following the 2009 LP Book of Leaves, the 2011 DVD/EP Marion County 1938 and Compound Leaves EP in 2013, this full length album reveals a broad new chapter for Rachel Grimes.

Several composed pieces evolved from improvisation, such as “In the Vapor”, “The Clearing”, “and Today Was Her Birthday”, and “Further Foundation”. Others include captured improvisation: “The Herald”, recorded live with Jacob Duncan on saxophone and Helen Money on cello, and “The Air at Night”, a late-night meditation at a recording session in Antwerp.

Inspired by the wind and sky, “The Airs” feature the violinist Scott Moore. Written with a single theme and mode, they provide a connective tissue for the album’s various textures. In May of 2014, after years of loving the albums of Kranky artist LOSCIL, Rachel wrote to Scott Morgan with a proposal to provide an atmosphere for the solo violin, strings, and piano of “The Airs” and was delighted that he said yes. The delicate processing and additional depth of field is a gentle invitation to the listener to enter this fluid space and be in the album for their own experience.

The title track “The Clearing” was recorded with members of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta following a series of performances for CrossLinx Festival in spring of 2013. After the joy of working together, Rachel proposed a long-distance recording session. Evolving from a single repeated piano note, “The Clearing” begins tense and dissonant with the string trio and piano eventually arriving at a moment of relief and grace – a light in the forest – and then returning again to the material of the opening.

“Transverse Plane” was designed for SITI Company of New York for an actor training stage exercise. In two sections, the piece uses a pre-existing architecture of tempo and underlying compositional structure. The first part – “Vertical” – is a driving, orchestral texture of strings, harp, piano, oboe and saxophone with Kyle Crabtree on mixed percussion. The second half – “Horizontal” – unfolds from a mist of strings with slow-moving chords and features Christian Frederickson in an angular and expressive viola solo.


The Clearing

Label: Temporary Residence Ltd.
Release date: May 26, 2015

Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky – most renowned for her work in Rachel’s, the groundbreaking chamber-rock ensemble that introduced an entire generation of underground rock fans to the unexpected similarities and appeal of neoclassical music.
“There were moments of The Clearing when my memories drifted toward Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, spiritual jazz and soundtrack music, Radiohead’s “Amnesiac,” Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Fennesz and Alva Noto. The Clearing is a study in contrast—majestic and radiant one moment, ominous and weary the next. There’s a feeling of presence and possibility throughout, as Grimes’s sonorous piano seems to dissolve into something sublime and vaporous, a reminder that there are always greater forces at play.” – Hua Hsu for The New Yorker

Rachel Grimes - The Clearing

Book Of Leaves

Label: Karate Body Records
Release date: October 12, 2009

The starkness of the recording is a good match for the snow-covered world outside my window at this writing, but it works regardless of the weather. These compositions came together over years as Grimes has worked with her own bands and as a hired session player, but they have a natural flow from one to the next, with simple themes and chord changes preserving a consistent mood in all of them. One of the most arresting compositions is the second, “Every Morning”. It proceeds without fuss through a series of small themes that pulse along, buoyed by dynamic contrast— her playing mimics an echo. She reprises it with a bit more flourish on the penultimate track, the second time allowing distant bird sounds to mingle with the music. That time between is something we all need now and then, and this record resonates primarily because of how well it embodies the nourishment of aloneness.

Rachel Grimes - Book Of Leaves