Shapes is Edmonton-based Golden Grey’s latest release, following up his 2018 release Colours with a shorter, punchier project. The Shapes EP is a cleaner cut version of Golden Grey heard on Colours, and is an evolution of his sound.
This time choosing a handful of songs over a full-length, Shapes has been crafted with simplicity in mind. The title track is also the lead single, and rightfully so, as it neatly arranges all the key themes in one piece. Golden Grey likes to take basic elements and gradually build them to something bigger. This song layers up the rising tension, climbing up to an airy synth pad for a quick breather; a head above the clouds. Before too long, the beat comes back with the opening lyrics: “The world is made of shapes, triangles and squares. Hexagons for days, shapes are everywhere”. It’s a brilliantly crafted intro, which announces the EP with force. Shapes is a well-arranged song that balances trance and techno to showcase Golden Grey’s brand. If you only have time for one track, this is it!
It gets a bit more spooky with Triangles. This is similar to the rest of the EP, but manages to stand out as a more complex piece. There are subtly pitch-shifted keys, and a weird artificial theremin in the breakdown. These point more to electronica than dance, which makes Triangles a glimpse at experimental side on display. This song allows him to stretch his wings, he even gives himself the indulgence of a short solo in one part. In anything, Triangles ends almost too soon; it has good ideas that could have given us a couple more minutes.
What would be handy to have more of is Golden Grey’s voice. His soft tones greet us on the opening track, but that’s all you get. His previous work has more of his own vocal input, and the squeaky-clean production on Shapes makes his voice sound perfect. So why not use it more? It could add depth in places. Hexagons in particular would have been lifted by some lyrics and human singing and as it’s the final track, it’d bring things back round and give the project a finer finish.
Overall, this is still a solid project, worth way more than its brief runtime and stretched across a full LP would remain just as interesting. Golden Grey’s primary strength is his commitment to minimalism. He is able to take basic musical themes, and with little effort turn it into something which rewards repeated listens. It doesn’t get boring, and the tunes don’t last a second too long. Shapes is a fine EP of entertaining, economic grooves.