Spiritual bump and grind at Purity Ring

Pub date September 5, 2012
WriterSoojin Chang

The luminous, blinking cocoons that have been rumored to grace the stages of Purity Ring’s live shows — as boasted by the lucky ones who have been able to get tickets to these consistently sold out performances — glowed with aqua-blue precision at Bottom of the Hill on Labor Day.

It was one of those elusive evenings the music gods hand craft. Every member of the crowd seemed to be in on this magical energy, knowing that sonic-satisfaction was promised to each and all by the end of the night. The Potrero Hill venue bustled with unanimous glee as the audience waited anxiously, gratefully, for the Halifax-Montreal-based duo to bring elegant live justice to its prodigious debut album, Shrines.

Composed of Corin Roddick (instrumentals) and Megan James (vocals), Purity Ring mingles the heavy, sensual beats of trap-rap with the lush innocence of dream pop. Like many artists who grew up during the 1990s (Roddick is 21 and James, 24) – and who experienced the spectacular explosion of the Internet as it evolved through the eruption of electronic music – Purity Ring composes with their life’s cumulative soundscape in mind, chopping and screwing what they know best.

But what is it exactly about Purity Ring that makes them so undeniably beautiful, and perfect to listen to at any mood, at any time of the day? What separates them from other recent sensations like Grimes, who also sings with a coy alien voice and futuristic flair?

James, for one, surrenders herself within her own words. She sings not with the glittering, sexual boldness found in many leading female artists, but rather with a strong, poised admission of her self-relinquishment and childlike vulnerability. Her unassuming, calm warbles that soar within the ethereal bass line proclaim the helplessness we all feel when the weight of the universe presses down on our little ribs. James alluringly invites the listener to share in her longing for that defining release found in music, poetry, love, and sex.

Purity Ring has found a way to make electronic music organic. Roddick performed using a light-emitting keyboard sampler made by him from scratch. The lovely aforementioned cocoons lit up at Roddick’s command to the tune of the trembling synths, to match all of our trembling thighs. The two performed wearing garments designed and sewn by James herself.

The flawless combination of un-ostentatious, self-effacing poetry and transparent musicianship brought down the walls of even the most aloof wallflower in the room. A spiritual bump and grind took hold of everyone’s pelvic bones as Purity Ring delivered a night of pure, pristine music, when for once, all made sense in the world.


All photos by Demian Becerra.