Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Golly, By Jolly, This Is Really Good! #56

Just when I thought the slew of albums that’s been released this year, especially the ones I’ve anticipated, grew into a downward spiral of lackluster-dom, I finally found a true glint of hope in the dreamy, experimental works of Portland based Liz Harris who goes by the stage moniker of Grouper. Recently discovered by way of Gorilla Vs. Bear, Grouper’s fourth and latest release awkwardly titled, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, exhibits some of the most breathtaking and ethereal creations this year have yet to witnessed, thus providing me enough conviction to place the record at the top rankings as one of the best 2008 has to offer.

The minute you put the record on, you’ll notice a soporific, sepulchral vibe trickling out from your speakers, instantly filling up the corners of your room till it’s thick of a dreamy blurriness. As Harris murmurs her way, steered by faint vocals that’s heavily coated in a vaporous resonance and through celestial landscapes of haunting yet swooning melodies, you’ll feel an undeniable heaviness fall upon your eyes. Needless to say that Dragging a Dead Deer… contains that much of an intangible quality to put anyone into a much needed, deep, and restful slumber; perfect to soak into during those bare periods of late-night listening. In ‘Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping’, Harris conjures up an obscure mixture of hypnotic drones and grainy, looped sonics, formulated into a dense atmosphere of exquisite, hazy, lullaby-esque echoes.

If there was a paragraph that could perfectly depict the music of Grouper, than perhaps this would be it:
…I realized that Dragging a Dead Deer was reminding me not of another album, but of an experience; waking up in my own bedroom in the middle of the night and not knowing where I am for a brief, disturbing instant. Dragging a Dead Deer was not itself familiar to me, but, rather, evocative of the experience of delayed recognition and un-place-able familiarity. Grouper had managed to viscerally express in song with startling specificity one of the most ineffable of human experiences; that of "The Uncanny," the simultaneously familiar and foreign, the comfortable and the frightening. The resultant album is breathtaking in the full sense of the word.

Grouper - Heavy Water/I’d Rather be Sleeping