An early reference point for me getting into this album when it was released (10 years ago, holy shit!) was My Bloody Valentine, which in retrospect is ridiculous. The beauty of Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill (and most Grouper albums) lies squarely in Liz Harris' songwriting, which she chooses to soak in reverb and tape hiss as an artistic choice, but is every bit as alluring without it (if you’ve seen her live you know what I mean). The record begins with a wave of white noise to reset the palate, before Liz’s ghostly couplet of vocals and overdriven guitar strums wash up on the shore. Over the next 11 tracks, she delivers stirring hymns buried in ripples of acoustic guitar; each track slowly cascading into the next with cottony atmosphere for days. It’s as if some timid creature has descended from the woods and is playing gorgeous alien songs around your campfire, and you’re too captivated by her beauty to tell her to get lost. Harris’ subsequent projects have played with the formula a bit, adding and subtracting layers; inviting the listener in close before pulling away again. But Dragging is the most sublime overall experience, with the sheer beauty of songs like “Fishing Bird (Empty Gutted In The Evening Breeze),” “Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping,” “Invisible” and “We’ve All Gone To Sleep” subjected to varying levels of saturation and echo making for an intoxicating listen. She continues to release amazing records (Grid Of Points is stunning), but this is the one we always compare them to. Highly recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- includes circular sticker drawn by Liz Harris
- music label: Kranky 2013
reviewed by edward james almost 05/2018