A Wormhole, Stylistic Defiance, and Cincinnati’s Grandace Make Sense of Aimlessness with ‘Lavalamp Cosmic’
Evan Dale // Oct 27, 2023
There is a certain cyber-softness that exists buried, albeit deeply influential, within the broad, dynamically conceptual nature of Grandace’s post-genre maneuverings. He says that his music is born of some sort of Sega Dreamcast nuance, and that very description — derivative of something before it, yet newer, and simultaneously rooted in a time not of quite ultra-modernity — delineates a tunnel of grey area madness that leaves a listener suspended in flight, or time, or something else unexplainable. And from beginning to end his latest collection, Lavalamp Cosmic, with the same aesthetic juxtaposition that confronts a youngster entering a club in the European underground foundationally dug into centuries of architectural stillness, just to hear a DJ defy the calendar with some future wave synthstrokes and pervasive basslines, Grandace somehow merges timelines for his own creations. And just like those basslines and their ability yet unwillingness to decapitate the structural integrity of the European underground, the result of Grandace’s mosaic of sonic influences defies stylistic adherence, gracefully tethering rapped roots to beats drenched in dreamwave, dance, and neo-disco.
And as if that wasn’t enough sweeping, all-encompassing exploration, he does it all within the framework of a story, and that story is tethered through art, to his own.
The story of the project follows an aimless post-grad, Greg Waters, who escapes death through a wormhole and finds himself in a far more attractive version of his life. Despite being granted the life he dreamed of, he struggles with his sense of worth and the project loosely details his path towards achieving balance.
‘I’ve spent the past 11 months, writing and producing this project to make sense of my life and the essence of my shortcomings,’ Grandace says. ‘While I haven’t gotten a clear answer myself, this journal of an EP has at least provided me with a few clues on how to find inner balance.’
For those listening, Lavalamp Cosmic provides something else. Perhaps not clear answers, but at least plenty of artful reasons to think and wonder, the EP is an explosive understanding of music as art, and as art of whatever the artist is willing to create. As widely as that can lead an artist, some structural constructs become helpful. And for how unyielding Grandace has long been to traditional genrefication, his understanding to self-regulate via concept and stylistic construct has only become more focused through the years.
For its part, Lavalamp Cosmic is a truly balanced project, willing to maneuver freely and dodge expectations, but never at the expense of the project’s deeper listenability or storyline. Take the stretch of tracks from Out of Bounds and Hard2letgo to Stolen Canvas and Outofsight where a constant BPM, a breathy vocal delivery, and a storyline driven flow coalesce to suspend the heart of Lavalamp Cosmic somewhere between the progressive, hip-hop and soul infused early dance of The Basement Jaxx and a more understated, folksy narrative focus. For any listener - either listening deeply to Grandace’s discourse, or nodding along subconsciously to the beat - it’s a ten minute stretch where time need not exist. Mindfulness, mindlessness, and every mental state in between are welcome here. It’s aimlessness with a purpose, and that itself speaks to the transcendency of the project, the artist, the storyline, and anyone listening all intertwined with one another.
The exclamation point comes appropriately at the end of the sentence with So Glorious. Lavalamp Cosmic’s closing track is the keystone example of the sound that Grandace orbits throughout the project’s 25-minute run time. The path towards achieving balance, arrives at its destination triangulated between youthful, retro-dance chords, a confident dynamic flow, and an addicting, energy-infused breakdown.
If you’re looking for a project simultaneously unique, yet rooted in eras and epochs of well-balanced stylistic explorations, fit for both the dancefloor or the park on a sunny day, Grandace has it for you. Lavalamp Cosmic is a positivist, art-school look into his life, and the music that subsequently emerges.