Grouper – Shade

Liz Harris's latest album as Grouper contains some of her most and least accessible work, from more simplistic cuts to swirling rave-ups

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 19 Oct 2021
  • Grouper - Shade
Album title: Shade
Artist: Grouper
Label: Kranky
Release date: 22 Oct

When Liz Harris releases music, it’s difficult not to relate to it with darkness. Not necessarily a foreboding, ominous darkness, but the kind where life is still and what’s coming next suggests an artist finding a way to edge tentatively into light, though still wanting a place to stay hidden. But with some of these recordings stretching back as many as 15 years, these are merely the parts that Harris is allowing us to see at this moment, not necessarily glimpses of this moment.

Shade contains some of Harris’s most and least accessible work. Ode to the blue is simple and beautiful; a line like 'I’ve been thinking about the way the light gets lost in your hair' conjures entire lifetimes in that simplicity. The way her hair falls is stop-start and sketch-like yet complete, telling us so much about what Harris won’t, or can’t, bring herself to say. Disordered Minds is a swirling rave up of tantric chanting and lo-fi noise. The rudimentary beat is somewhere between Moe Tucker and techno.

Grouper songs fit so nicely into that depressive spiral where the only art you can engage with is that which will match your feelings. So, when we reach the country-tinged final track, Kelso (Blue sky), and Harris sings sunnily 'Blue sky over Kelso and I’m feeling fine', it’s hard not to gasp.

Listen to: Pale Interior, The way her hair falls, Kelso (Blue sky)