- As Grouper, Liz Harris has managed to occupy a curious space in experimental music. She's amassed a cult following over the course of ten solo studio albums and various shorter projects, with fans that hang on to her every reverberation. Yet despite being a prolific artist, she manages to remain an elusive figure. "I honestly feel I move way too quickly most of the time," Harris once explained. "I make an effort to space releases out and still end up releasing more often than I'd like, make an effort to have time at home and still end up traveling and performing more than I'd like."
Her latest LP, Grid Of Points, is her first since 2014's Ruins—a gap that Harris might be more comfortable with. Like its predecessor, Grid Of Points was borne out of a period of isolation. Soon after completing Ruins in a small Portuguese town, the Oregon-based musician and visual artist found herself in Wyoming, the least densely populated state in the U.S. The songs were written in just over a week, and were stopped abruptly at the onset of a high fever. "Though brief, it is complete," Harris says of the album.
Aside from piano, reverb and her own voice, Harris includes extended periods of complete stillness and atmospheric silence—the sounds of being alone. The track titles—"Parking Lot," "Driving," "Thanksgiving Song"—sometimes allude to times and places when you'd be surrounded by others. But isolation is central to the Grouper listening experience, as an informal case study of YouTube comments might show. ("All noise and distraction gets switched off when listening to this," reads one.)
This music suits periods of poignant, existential anguish. The discordance of "Birthday Song" gestures to this, its melancholy the sort you might feel reflecting on the passage of time. On "Thanksgiving Song," her whispers accumulate like fog. Harris' music has been called ambient, a genre often associated with stretched-out compositions that invite meditation. Harris describes them instead as "small texts hanging in space." On Grid Of Points these passages, and the silences in between, invite deep exploration.
01. The Races
02. Parking Lot
04. Thanksgiving Song
05. Birthday Song