Monday, June 25, 2012

Grouper - He Knows, He Knows, He Knows

Here's a tiny sliver... Grouper seems to exist on her own plane. Calling through the mist, reaching out through the windows. Seeking connection, yet defying it. Liz Harris' ambient drones have heart, a heart that is broken. It is black eyed and sullen and bewitching. This miniature album (it was released on a 3" CDr and vinyl 7". It came out between Way Their Crept and Wide. On it, she explores the limits of her voice, which ripples like a pond in the woods over the course of these three tracks. She sounds entirely sweet, seductive. A siren that calls you to sharp rocks. Edges you further on into the night-time. Like the work of Leyland Kirby, aka The Caretaker, she uses reverb and delay to give a sensation of recollection, and the loop-y subject matter of the material makes it seem like a memory played over and over. Someone you can't forget? What compels Liz Harris to construct these worlds? Is she just that anti-social? My friend said once that Grouper's music was like someone in a bedroom, nodded out on junk, slowly rocking and absently strumming a guitar. Only this time, even the guitar is missing. There is nothing to hold her down - she is otherworldly. I heard another reviewer mention the works of Arvo Pärt, these three songs also seem like spectral choruses. I finally saw Grouper play live, as part of the Improvisation Summit Of Portland (you can read about that here if you like. She played in a nearly black room, with a dancer swinging a lantern like the hermit. Her music put owls in my mind, cast shadows of branches. People like Grouper are part of what lured me out towards the NorthWest, i just felt this compulsion to be NEAR them. People like Grouper, Earth, Daniel Menche, Pete Swanson (not sure if he's still here or not). Finally being in the same room with Liz Harris, breathing the same air; it was something i'd been ANTICIPATING. It seemed fated. To see her live, was to re-appreciate her music. I've been listening to this year's Mirroring project with Jesy Fortino of Tiny Vipers, as well as the epic A I A : Alien Observer. She's inspiring; its like she'll lead you down a dark tunnel with a lantern of stars. She'll show you drawings on the wall. She's one of the masters of the modern drone and loop. Raw heart. Direct appreciation. A shadow on the walls of yr mind. This is witchcraft... Grouper's music possesses you. It made me feel like i want to listen to this person every day. I want to fall in love, and have my heart broken. I want her to tell me stories. I've decided to hear every note of music that she's made, let her wraith-like sadness and distance transport me. To a shadowy place, full of soft white light. Speaking softly. Slowly. Sometimes not at all. The sound of evening falling, the streetlights arising. Memories of Autumn. It is black-clad and it is smoking.
 Lose yrself...


  1. i had the most incredible eye contact connection with harris at a live show some years ago. i was in the front row of a packed theater and we locked eyes for what seemed like eternity (maybe 20 minutes in realtime). she is not fucking around with her desire to communicate through music on her own terms.

    thanks very kindly for this.

  2. she is very otherworldly. I oftentimes wonder what she has seen. The most surreal worlds, she plants in my head.

  3. I'd be so very grateful for a new upload