The latest Grouper record was recorded during a residency in Wyoming in 2014, but interrupted when Liz Harris fell sick. Rather than picking it back up later under a different set of circumstances, she accepted it for what it was and allowed the brevity of the work to further inform its meaning: “The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs’ lyrics speak more directly of,” she says. “The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.” Like Ruins, Grid Of Points finds Harris quietly baring her soul over tender piano melodies without the lo-fi fuzz of earlier career-defining works, but reintroduces a touch of reverb and overdubbed vocal harmonies back into the mix. The result is a ghostly, disarming set of songs that feel once removed by a sheet of white linen dividing the room, but still more close than we’re used to. Her lyrics are still pretty much indecipherable, something we’ve come to accept over a painful decade of trying to extract meaning from her work (although she was kind enough to include the lyrics to “Birthday Song” here). “Once a song has left me I want it to belong to whoever finds it. I write a song about feeling isolated. Listeners know the song is about their mother dying, the birth of their child, the way their last relationship ended. All these things and more. An open door.” Closing track “Breathing” is one of the most stirring Grouper songs to date; after a minute and a half of her dreamy incantation and restrained piano, she quietly lets herself out (presumably for another 4 years) behind the sound of a freight train that chugs along for the final two minutes. The record's outer sleeve features an original drawing from Harris' Double Object series, and includes a double-sided black & white insert. Recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- cover drawing by Liz Harris
- includes double-sided b&w photo/lyric insert
- music label: Kranky 2018
reviewed by edward james almost 05/2018