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Grimes: Doll's veil dance

The artistic career of producer and singer Claire Boucher alias Grimes is one of the most notable mistakes in recent pop. Over the course of a decade, the promising protagonist of a new technofeminism has turned into a male fantasy for science fiction nostalgics and Silicon Valley employees. For this reason alone, it is worth taking a look at their new, now fifth, long-playing album Miss Anthropocene to throw that comes out this Friday.

When Grimes entered the pop stage at the end of the noughties, she presented herself - similar to Billie Eilish today - as a dark, melancholy, slightly lethargic ghost princess. On their first albums Geidi Primes and Halfaxa (both from 2010) she breathed all sorts of moderately understandable stuff into leaden swaths of sound. It was a music of great physical and powerlessness and therefore absolutely in line with the times: It seemed slow-motion, tough and extremely exhausted, in keeping with the impression that was circulating not only in the pop avant-garde at the time, that one could keep up with the frenzied pace of the new Digital modernity can only oppose through radical deceleration. "Chill-Wave" or "Witch-House" were the genres from which the aesthetics of the early Grimes nourished: Pop for the tired society; romantic inwardness visions for a generation that was striving for the first burn-out therapies in their early twenties.

That was interesting. Even more interesting was the turning point that she made on her third album Visions in 2012, the first with which it became known to the general public. Even here one could occasionally hear mystifying echoes and ghost choirs making "bahuba". But in songs like genesis and Oblivion essentially a hyperactive quote pop, a high-speed music of non-stop self-surpassing and the combination of all conceivable styles, from Gothic to J-Pop to R'n'B. Everything spherical and blurred, Grimes now had the relentlessly accelerating beat of that digital turbo society subject, from which her music had previously promised redemption through slowness. Visions was one of the most exciting albums of the early decade: because here an artist succeeded in turning the apparently paradoxical entanglement of acceleration and deceleration aesthetics into a new form of autonomy. Grimes alternated between references and inspirations so shakily and at the same time confidently, as if trying to tame a ceaseless flow of music and symbols.

The body and its desires also returned to the world: Be a body was not called one of their most distinctive titles for nothing. At their concerts, Grimes could be seen both as an engineer and as a hysterical diva. She called up her sounds from samplers, keyboards and pedal effects to manipulate her own voice; On the stage the instruments were always a little too far apart, so that she had to rush back and forth between them hectically and seemingly overwhelmed. On the one hand, it all seemed extremely spontaneous. On the other hand, every gesture of lustful submission sat under the attachment of the machines.

Perhaps nowhere in pop was the relationship between the human and the post-human at this historical moment so clearly articulated as in Grimes. In any case, one has to recall the cleverness and beauty of this art to appreciate the full extent of disappointment and horror that could seize one in viewing its recent public appearances. One of the first songs from their new album, 4ÆM, presented it last December at the Game Awards in Los Angeles, an awards gala for the best video games of the year. The show essentially consisted of the fact that Grimes in one of age-old science fiction films like Tron or Blade runner reminiscent, future-nostalgic stage design first performed a silly veil dance and then beat around on a drum pad without any connection to the musical playback. Finally she climbed into a snow white coffin filled with billowing dry fog, after which the camera whizzed through sparkling gorges, which could be interpreted either as an interior view of a computer circuit board or as a dystopian cityscape. In every way, it was the exact opposite of what Grimes had once stood for. The confident techno-feminist and engineer of a completely unique future world had become an externally controlled doll in a setting that might have stood for the future four decades ago, but has long since served as a cliché ambience for computer game-finders who are far from innovation and their lazy audience. Her current partner, space and electric car entrepreneur Elon Musk, sat in front of the stage and applauded enthusiastically. In the video for the piece Delete Forever, Released last week, Grimes sits on a throne as the alien queen in harlequin costume with a bleached face and braids of bulging dumplings in a Mars landscape surrounded by ancient ruins that have fallen straight out of the kitschest science fiction aesthetic of the 1970s into the present could be. Once again, albeit here in a different variation, the once so confidently appearing future inventor presents herself as a dreary pin-up for space opera readers, as a male fantasy of space enthusiast technology nerds. A highly emancipatory actor in pop has seldom surrendered to recourse and submission to traditional role models so clearly and thoroughly.

The music on the new album is by the way not bad, but not particularly interesting either. There are unimaginative ballads of spiritualism to be heard like the opening piece So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth or tonally stereotypical mid-tempo pieces with knurzbass and high pitched chipmunk chorales for the Spotify charts (You'll Miss Me When I'm Not Around). In the best places like the one performed with the Chinese high-speed rapper Pan Wei-Ju alias Aristophanes Darkseid Grimes concludes with the fidgety, glittering, yet undermined by darkly swaying bass aesthetics of Oblivion at; only that the prevailing impression at the time of carefree do-it-yourself experimentation seems to have been reshaped by a thickly brushed-out, three-dimensional luxury production.

Grimes has posted various pictures of her pregnancy bump on her Instagram account in the past few weeks. Obviously, it was implied, she is bearing a child from Elon Musk; and in one of the pictures this child was shown in the form of a little cyborg. The technofeminist of yore was fertilized by the techno patriarch of the present to become a mother of machines. She might play her next concert in Germany at the opening of the new Tesla plant in Grünheide, Brandenburg. After all, this could set new accents in pop music: It doesn't always have to be Bernhard Brink and Andy Borg who perform to the sound of car dealership parties.