Grouper – Grid of Points

Liz Harris' new album as Grouper is starker and even more stripped-back than before, but filled with as much beauty as ever

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 27 Apr 2018
  • Grouper – Grid of Points
Album title: Grid of Points
Artist: Grouper
Label: Kranky
Release date: 27 Apr

By this point, the beauty of Liz Harris’ work as Grouper is unparalleled and near-indescribable. With every new work though, the music becomes starker. On previous album Ruins, she traded her shimmering, reverb-drenched guitar for piano melodies submerged in sustain. And with that change-up her voice, spectral and haunting as ever, has become a little clearer, even if her words remain unintelligible.

On Grid of Points Harris has stripped-back even more. This new record, along with its predecessor, exists on a purgatorial plane, somewhere between the ethereal and the everyday. It can feel as if Harris is singing, magically, from nowhere and everywhere simultaneously, and yet doesn’t think twice about ending a song abruptly, with the noise of a passing train ripping through the centre of yet another gorgeous melody as on closer Breathing.

Elsewhere, there is a constant hum underlying everything. Around the halfway point of Thanksgiving Song, Harris’ words drift away and the piano seems to shift, playing out the remainder of the track from another room, or further away, maybe – it isn’t certain – before fading away. Driving contains just a moment of soaring splendour, a tone that appears and then is gone again, lost to the static.

Harris says these songs were recorded over a brief but intense period brought to an unexpected stop thanks to a high fever. The album itself is much like that – fleeting, over before you can catch your breath. But, an imprint of something – a distinct mark you’re not quite sure the meaning of – is left behind.

Listen to: Driving, Thanksgiving Song