Henry Steinway has locked himself in the studio. The LA-based trap-oriented producer known as RL Grime is reportedly putting the final touches on his second album, Nova, announced last summer in a zine-style newsletter he released that indicated the project is much more than a collection of new music.
“Nova will define and encompass every part of the RL Grime project over the coming years,” he wrote. “More than just an album, or a show, or a single narrative, I want the Nova project to create spaces where you can feel part of the process. So it won’t just be me setting the storyline. Your input and the way you engage with my music and performance has always driven me forward.”
Grime’s output over the past year marks that forward motion. As a Wynn Nightlife resident, he’s known for dropping explosive, sweaty sets thick with booming bass, a soundtrack similar to his 2012 breakthrough remixes of Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction”— the latter turning an iconic club thumper into a tension-filled trip into a musical beehive.
But Grime has been adding tremendous texture and bright tones to balance those big beats. Last summer’s “Stay for It” saw him team with another LA force of nature, Miguel, who sings atop an almost orchestral buildup that blasts into a cinematic synth drop. Among the tracks expected to show up on Nova are the rhythmic, tribal “Reims” and the spacey “Aurora,” an epic voyage with scoops of live drums and rigid synth lines that could have been inspired by Alfonso Cuarón’s dizzying Gravity.
Grime’s new single is “I Wanna Know” showcasing 19-year-old singer and songwriter Daya, best known for breaking through on The Chainsmokers’ 2016 smash “Don’t Let Me Down.” Here, Grime builds an ideal, understated canvas for her glittery vocals. It’s an anthem for a weekend escape, and it’s light years beyond the bass, creating even more excitement for what Grime will dream up next. Perhaps we’ll get a bigger preview at Sunday’s Nightswim at XS.
NIGHTSWIM WITH RL GRIME May 13, 10:30 p.m., $25-$45. XS, Encore, 702-770-7300.