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Reviews

Grouper
Grid Of Points Aimee Armstrong , May 3rd, 2018 07:39

Travelling somewhere beyond ambient, post-industrial and drone, Liz Harris creates a short and profound new album

Forlornly reminiscent, the music of Liz Harris as Grouper has taken many forms while always sharing this common DNA. Traditional notions of beauty lie in the ruptures of records like Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill, The Man Who Died In His Boat and, most recently, Ruins. Grid Of Points follows the lineage of Ruins; it’s built on skeletal foundations, with Harris’s vocals and piano and occasional incidental noise like fuzz and feedback. But where Ruins (as its title would suggest) paints images of structural erosion, abandoned churches, demolished homes and deserted labyrinths, Grid Of Points crafts something more urban, domestic, and altogether less secluded.

That’s not to say Grid Of Points isn’t a lonely record. In Harris’s own words it concerns “the space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.” The record wields a constant feeling of solitude; songs like ‘The Races’ and ‘The Parking Lot’ are built almost like hauntology except from original recordings. Much like The Caretaker’s Everywhere At The End Of Time project, Grouper is creating music in which other people exist only as ghosts.

The record is quiet, even for Grouper’s standards, and it runs little over 22 minutes. Everything’s held back, and it creates mesmeric payoffs in microscopic instrumental introductions - like the recording artefacts on ‘Driving’.

Harris is as elusive as her music, and gives few interviews. You follow her airy vocals through deserted landscapes with no guide aside from the track titles and occasional discernible lyrics. Mundanities, like roaming through a parking lot, driving and even breathing, are made eerie.

The last track, ‘Breathing’, is preceded by a field recording of a coal train – a moment of earthliness and a testament to the album being recorded in Wyoming. ‘Birthday Song’, the album’s melancholic centrepiece, brings enchanted whispers and dwells on the same note. ‘Breathing’, that closing song, is sensual music in its most delicate form. Every track on Grid Of Points is captivating.

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