Grouper – Grid Of Points – Album Review by Cathy Brown
When Liz Harris began recording as Grouper twelve years ago, her elusive songs were guitar focused affairs making judicious use of her effects pedal. With 2014’s Ruins, she began simplifying her sound, focusing on just voice and piano to create their own effects. Her new album Grid of Points follows on from where Ruins left off, introducing a dreamlike world of whispered airy vocals and loose arrangements that give the impression of music being created just at the moment you start to listen.
Grid of Points is a fleeting wisp of an album, its 7 tracks coming in at a mere 22 minutes but it delivers on intimacy and beauty. It is strikingly sparse held together by the sound of her breathing and the thrum of the sustain pedal. That very simplicity creates a sense of grace and transience that is illuminating – this is not an album to have on as background music.
Opening track ‘The Races’ sees Harris harmonise with herself, while her oblique vocal style on tracks like ‘Driving’ is surprisingly intimate rather than simply ambient. Sometimes it is hard to know when one song has ended and a new one begun.
On the loosely arranged ‘Parking Lot’, Harris’s voice is like another instrument, floating in and out of the sustain of the piano to create a trance like fever dream, a dream which is then broken at the end of the melancholic ‘Breathing’ by the sound of a passing train which plays out until the end of the album.
Harris has said that Grid of Points was recorded over 10 days, prior to the onset of a high fever and the album contains like that off-kilter otherworldly sense that all is not right. There is an unsettling aspect to stillness on display here and an emotional depth that much longer albums would have trouble matching.
Grid of Points is a subtle album, but one that compels you to listen and to listen closely. Harris balances silence and sound to create a beautifully intimate experience.
1. The Races 00:50
2. Parking Lot 03:32
3. Driving 03:48
4. Thanksgiving Song 03:33
5. Birthday Song 03:22
6. Blouse 02:45
7. Breathing 04:01