Grouper - Grid Of Points

by James Weiskittel Rating:7 Release Date:2018-04-27
Grouper - Grid Of Points
Grouper - Grid Of Points

Liz Harris, the singer/songwriter otherwise known as Grouper, has been mining independent waters for the better part of a decade.  And with her latest album, Grid of Points, Harris has crafted what is perhaps her most challenging release to date.

Completely devoid of any of the electric instrumentation that highlighted her earlier releases (like 2008’s guitar-driven Dragging a Dead Deer), Grid of Points is a potent mix of hushed vocals, sparse piano-playing and lo-fi production.  The record is solely comprised of piano/voice arrangements highlighting her subtle voice and impenetrable prose.

Songs like the understated, album-opening “The Races”, and the intensely somber “Birthday Song” are both incredibly affecting, each managing to find a different tangent with which to explore Harris’ minimalist tendencies.  Meanwhile, “Parking Lot” and “Blouse” are clear album highlights, offering tangible moments of melody that shine against the backdrop of what is an otherwise haunting, desolate collection of songs.

All of that being said, despite its billing as an ‘album’, Grid of Points is a substantially brief collection of songs, (seven tracks totalling just over twenty minutes), a decision perhaps explained best by Harris herself:  I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever.  Though brief, it is complete. The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs' lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.

Where the inclination to cite the album’s brevity as a negative is tempting, the seven tracks that comprise Grid of Points do all seem to occupy their own space within this collection, a strength that would certainly be diminished if there were twice as many songs.  And considering the circumstances of the recording, it was probably a wise choice to deliver Grid of Points in its fragile, partially unrealized state.  

And while the decision to leave an audience wanting ‘more’ often rides a fine line between feelings of anticipation and frustration, the best case scenario for any release is to elicit a mixture of both; a feat that is sufficiently achieved with Grid of Points.  

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