Release Date: Oct 22, 2013
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Ambient Pop
‘Active Child’ sounds a bit like a toddler caped crusader with the lamest superpower. In reality, it’s Pat Grossi, dream-pop/future R&B maestro, sans mask and spandex pants (probably). The Pasadena, California, native spins a fine sonic silk, juggling a fracas of infinitesimal details, lunging pop meathooks and enough emotional gravitas to make even Terry Crews weep.
What’s most evident about Active Child’s Rapor EP is the influence that Pat Grossi has taken from his musical peers since the success of his debut album, You Are All I See. The opening instrumental track “She Cut Me” has reverb-heavy drums and pitch-bent vocal samples akin to M83, for whom Active Child opened during a 2011 tour. Ellie Goulding, the English pop artist who covered and then adopted Active Child’s “Hanging On,” returns the favor here by providing guest vocals on “Silhouette,” a forlorn ballad that serves as the EP’s centerpiece.
In my review of You Are All I See, I made a few comparisons between Active Child's Pat Grossi and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, both sensitive musers who employ their offbeat falsettos to convey beautifully rendered grief. But whereas Vernon's sense of tragedy is practically Thoreauvian, a disaffected man aching to get back to basics and find his place in the natural order, Grossi is much more conventional, cataloging his troubled obsession with love. Like fellow R&B nü-gazer Tom Krell, Grossi nurtures that helpless infatuation with exquisitely layered arrangements and a choked-up but largely asexual tenor.
Previewing ‘Rapor’ last month with ‘Subtle’, Pat Grossi aka Active Child threw down a gauntlet to anyone expecting another collection of choral R&B. In many ways, Grossi still skirts between the pews and extravagant glass of a church, but ‘Rapor’ is built on much finer stone.It opens with the glacial instrumental ‘She Cut Me’, Grossi giving a glimpse of his castrato voice in brief murmurs. Any dolorous projections are disposed of with ‘Subtle’, featuring Mikky Ekko, who pits his glossy pop hooks against Grossi’s ethereal and haughty vocals.
As Active Child, singer/songwriter Pat Grossi creates atmospheric electronic music to showcase his symphonic keyboard arrangements and angelic, soprano croon. Following up his acclaimed full-length debut, 2011's You Are All I See, Active Child's 2013 EP, Rapor, once again focuses on Grossi's sophisticated electronic pop. Here, Grossi's songs straddle the line between club-oriented dance music and more introspective and arty singer/songwriter compositions.
Fiat lux: the contact of cornea and electromagnetic radiation, the necessary condition for vision, provides the deep structure for Pat Grossi (a.k.a Active Child)’s new EP, Rapor. The piece is named after his home studio: Rapor, the EP, is a cathedral of light (“Evening Ceremony”), where each moment is perfectly and precisely constructed — all pillar, no filler — while Grossi’s falsetto soars upward, marrying the devotional to apologetics, the heart to the head, warm sun to neon. Grossi’s harp work also speaks to the paradox of the architectural, a perfect flatland that inhabits three-dimensional space — glissades and struts, the geometric and the vibratory.
Pat Grossi isn’t the kind of guy who just blends in: you don’t encounter a lot of tall, lanky, redheaded harpists with a voice that actually earns the “choirboy” descriptor. Starting with his 2010 EP Curtis Lane, the music Grossi performs as Active Child aspired to be every bit as singular, situating his rangy vocals within post-dubstep clicks, porcelain R&B and a ghosted production aesthetic. Yet, by his 2011 debut You Are All I See, Active Child became a strangely centrist affair, as artists that shared many of those stylistic tics (James Blake, Bon Iver, collaborator How To Dress Well, Jai Paul) were some of the year’s major indie figures.
Akin to the most successful crooners, Active Child (aka Pat Grossi) possesses the ability to simultaneously project to someone and everyone. On 2011’s “You Are All I See” (from the album of the same name), Grossi established himself on the forefront of the “New New Romantics”, entrapping audiences with his falsetto and bedroom nu-gaze. Grossi was then pushed further into the limelight after Ellie Goulding covered the producer’s “Hanging On” as the lead-single for 2012’s Halcyon.
No emotion is minor in the world of Active Child. With a voice primed as a kid in the Philadelphia Boys Choir, Pat Grossi sings big and fits swelling synth sounds to scale, making for epic songs on the order of M83. This six-song EP follows the delicate, harp-assisted success of his 2011 debut You Are All I See with more atmospheric odes to sentimentality and harder-charging electro-pop.
opinion byBENJI TAYLOR Active Child’s 2011 album You Are All I See was a fantastic debut. Bright and beautiful, its densely produced soundscapes weren’t instantly accessible or readily penetrable. They required patience on behalf of the listener, but the sonic textures from which they were crafted revealed their intricate beauty over time, like light reflected through glass suddenly dappling a stone surface with a myriad glorious colors.