Pat Grossi’s Active Child is a breath of fresh air from synth land. Grossi (an erstwhile choir boy
turned indie fiend) holds the unique position of being the only individual
alive producing harp infused electronica. While that description sounds droll,
his ethereal falsetto, harp arpeggios, and M83ish synths coalesce into a lush sonic
vista with You Are All I See.
Last year’s Curtis Lane showcased Grossi’s melodic deftness
with a sound that was both cerebral and kinetic. Despite the promise of that
EP, it was hindered by unbalanced songs. Fortunately, Grossi’s debut album is
an improvement – the music’s better structured, and though there are still danceable
moments, it’s best appreciated alone with quality headphones.
The first half contains the vital tracks, the standout being
“Hanging On,” a lamentation of love lost propelled by a mesmerizing beat. Although
Grossi’s lyrics aren’t exactly novel, his celestial delivery gives every word
an immense (yet personal) weight. Other highlights include the title track, “Playing
House” (feat. How To Dress Well), and the instrumental “Ivy,” a perfect example
of Grossi’s penchant for swirling radiance. The album loses steam during the
last 10 minutes; the songs are darker, but feel somewhat protracted (“Shield
& Sword” borders on ennui). This
isn’t to say the final section is filler – it just lacks the incandescent grooves
present earlier in the record.
While the overall atmosphere of You Are All I See is somber, Grossi’s dulcet vocals give his glum sentiments
a soothing air. The incongruous pairing of instruments works surprisingly well:
the harp serves as an anchor against undulating synths, and both function in tandem
without being overpowering. Seeing this is Grossi’s first full-length, it’s an
achievement, and although it fizzles out near the end, the killer tracks far eclipse
the lesser numbers.
DOWNLOAD: “Hanging On,” “Playing House” SAM BALTES