The 10th studio album from Liz Harris’ Grouper finds her at her most vulnerable, stripping away the reverb and tape hiss that permeated previous releases, baring only her gentle falsetto coupled with a delicately plucked piano. It was recorded during a residency in a coastal town on the tip of Portugal with a minimal setup: portable 4-track, Sony stereo mic and upright piano. “When I wasnʼt recording songs I was hiking several miles to the beach. The path wound through the ruins of several old estates and a small village. The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.” If Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is a smoldering campfire on a chilly Oregon beach, Ruins is that feeling of seeking refuge on a porch two feet removed from a rainstorm on a hot summer night (at one point, you can actually hear the beep from a microwave in the next room coming back on after a blackout). The substitution of Liz Harris’ tried-and-true acoustic guitar for piano bathes her vocals in a different kind of light, and they’re soft and cottony compared to the thud of the ivory keys. “Holding,” “Clearing” and “Lighthouse” are some of her most devastating performances to date, and without the reverb and tape noise, she’s never felt closer… it’s as if you’re right there sitting on the floor while she plays. The album is punctuated by a few lush instrumental passages (“Labyrinth,” “Holoferness,” “Made Of Air”) that really let the gravity of these songs sink in. Black vinyl pressing released by Kranky, includes a sticker featuring a piece from Harris' Double Object series of drawings. Recommended.
- black vinyl pressing
- includes square sticker drawn by Liz Harris
- music label: Kranky 2014
reviewed by edward james almost 05/2018