Home > News & Reviews > Grouper

Grouper - Grid of Points (Album Review)

Monday, 30 April 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Tanja Engelbert

Liz Harris is an interesting musician.

Operating as Grouper, the Californian has produced 10 records of murmured sound happenings, rich in washy reverb and tonally evasive melodies. Her 11th album, ‘Grid of Points’, picks up on the piano-led soundscapes of 2014’s ‘Ruins’, but is in many ways a more sparse, ambient record. At 22 minutes, it could act as a very effective entry level meditation piece.

We open with a 50-second choral number, The Races, which introduces ecclesiastical arrangements and massive sounding - yet quiet - melodies. From this beautiful intro, we drop into Parking Lot - a song that demonstrates more fully Harris’s distinctive vocal style.

As with much of Grouper’s work, her voice is being used to deliver sounds rather than words. It could be argued that another Liz - Fraser of the Cocteau Twins - is the key influence outside of the avante-garde to hone this style. But Harris’s voice is remarkable for its terseness; in a world of quantised rhythms and auto-tuned vocals, the spacious freedom of ‘Grid of Points’ is something to be cherished.

That said, there is a little bit of the emperor’s new clothes about it. The last two minutes are the sound of a train approaching and departing, and while Harris has gone on record to describe the album’s recording as being halted by sickness - possibly as a message from a higher power - the reality is that this is an album where very little happens.

Having said that, Harris is clearly an artist who is interested in the practice of a particular style, and developing that practice as far as it can go. Thus, it is hard to criticise the minimalism of ‘Grid of Points’ when it is so boldly designed to be that way. Just don’t put it on at a party.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Grouper Unveils New Song Driving
Wed 04 Apr 2018
Photo: Tanja Engelbert Grouper has unveiled a new song.
Grouper Announces New Album 'Grid Of Points', Shares First Cut Parking Lot
Thu 08 Mar 2018
Photo: Tanja Engelbert Liz Harris will return with a new Grouper album next month.
Nice Electricity: Inside Jawbone's Sizzling Old School Debut
Wed 14 Nov 2018
Photo: Rob Blackham Sometimes an album arrives from out of nowhere and knocks you off your feet. There’s something new, yet familiar, about its melodies, its heart-warming immediacy and the effortless chemistry that oozes from the bewitching songs within. We’re basically talking the musical equivalent of love at first sight, which is exactly what fans of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll and American roots music will doubtless feel after hearing Jawbone’s quietly magnificent self-titled bow.
Boygenius - Boygenius (Album Review)
Tue 13 Nov 2018
Photo: Lera Pentelute Supergroup is a big, ugly label. It’s reductive, and it ramps up the pressure on what is always a new endeavour—even if the players are seasoned pros. Friction is naturally created by expectations rubbing up against the mechanics of making music in a fresh formation, often leading to overhyped records that feel like a tired exhalation of breath from their first note.
'We Wanted To Reach People on a Personal Level': Pijn Discuss The Genre-Defying Power Of 'Loss'
Mon 12 Nov 2018
A striking development in the past decade or so has been the extent to which people discover music through mood as opposed to genre. Streaming services have adapted to perceived consumer demand by releasing reams of playlists tailored to every emotion or context imaginable, from deeply depressed to “songs to sing to in the car”. This has its upsides and downsides for a band like Pijn.
Mick Jenkins - Pieces Of A Man (Album Review)
Tue 20 Nov 2018
Mick Jenkins was riding the crest of a wave when his breakout mixtape 'The Water[s]' dropped in the summer of 2014. Talented heads like Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Noname and Saba would all go on to emerge from the same bubbling Chicago hip-hop scene, but Jenkins had positioned himself in critics' minds as the moody and technically gifted older brother. He already appeared fully formed in an artistic sense, framing highly conceptual songwriting with jazz-influenced verses and a raspy vocal delivery.
Driven By Honesty: Barry Dolan Discusses Oxygen Thief's 'Confusion Species'
Thu 22 Nov 2018
Photo: Chris Taylor When Bristol-based songwriter Barry Dolan released 'Destroy It Yourself', the first Oxygen Thief album, in 2011, he stood out for his entirely acoustic take on melodic hardcore if not the subjects he explored. Dolan conveyed ruminations on love, loss and hypocrisy through cryptic metaphors and sharp turns of phrase, complemented by fitful riffing without a backdrop.
< Prev   Next >