A horrible hack

Grouper

Ruins

Year Released: 0000
Format: LP
Label: Kranky
 
Reviewed by Sean Haughton on Nov 3, 2014
liz harris' music has always had an element of claustrophobia to it, a lone voice buried under a thick layer of warped sound. always beautiful, but very rarely something with a feeling of comfort. on 'ruins', her tenth album recorded alone in 2011, strips bare any of her previous blankets of sound almost to the point where the discomforting intimacy feels like torture. the front cover is stark and foreboding, a sole figure of what looks to be the artist fading from the picture.

with the exception of 'made of metal' and 'made of air' (a brief and lone drum and more grouper-traditional drone created in 2004 that respectively bookend proceedings), the record consists of an upright piano, harris' voice (undisguised by her usual reverb) and rare moments of surface noise. rain, frogs and a microwave flashing back to life after a storm's blackout are the only guest appearances, the only o. playing this record for the first time in a mostly empty house on a grey day, i felt as if harris is in the room, that making the slightest noises felt like i was interrupting something. as a piece of work, the album forces you into a solemn and meditative headspace and carries an astounding weight of intimacy. despite the music's quiet nature, something about it commands your almost total attention.

some will refer to this record as "gentle" when it is anything but: the sheer nakedness of her compositions here are as heavy as music can get in my mind. this fascinating shift in direction is as clear a statement as harris could make, one that eclipses even her highest watermark. the 11-minute closer gives the idea of creating a blank slate, a line drawn in the sand after a tumultuous half an hour. this period of her life clearly allowed her a brief moment to purge these emotions in the the most open way possible and for a brief time listening to 'ruins', you are right there with her.


Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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