Review: Grouper’s Delicate, Meditative ‘Grid of Points’

Liz Harris’ work as Grouper is distinguishable. Despite a burgeoning growth in ambient sung minimalism, Harris’ arcane textural murmurings, meditative and sewn into greys, are a landscape only Harris can inflect with life. Her new record, Grid of Points, sounds like subatomic, living song particles fusing into inanimate objects, and then moving on.

Opener “The Races” is an icy, rushing of water stocked with syllables. It’s a wake up rub on the shoulder, gentle and supportive. Harris directs even more attention with “Parking Lot”, as her piano takes lead, stepping slightly in front of her chanting. The undecipherable lyrical threads are more a response and cathartic engagement than a true singsong rendezvous. Harris sounds transfixed with the tone and space her piano yields. Her layered vocals are strikingly placed. “Driving” follows in with a darker lens and is less piano-fueled. Her sustain grasps these fragmental, earthen melodies with the airiest of touch. Harris is masterful at letting space just be.

Listening to Grid of Points stakes claim to the forgotten lakes, old growth forests, and isolated ocean views. Harris embeds her wishes and hopes in the rocks and below the duff. At times she operates like water; elemental and impossible to trap securely in your hands. The pristine river vocals spill and eddy over each other on “Thanksgiving Song.” Sun streaks cut between the fallen nurse logs, echoing 200-year-old wisdom. Harris cleverly plays her piano notes with homophonic weight/wait. “Birthday Song” finds Harris moving up and down the spiral staircase. Her pronunciations coat the ordinary in a dissolving terrain. “Blouse” is soothing and childlike in its melodicism. Harris coos over and under her stately piano chords, waving like a sprightly top, shaped by an ocean breeze.

Grid of Points is a fleeting affair. The distinct locomotive on “Breathing” barrels into focus grounding Liz Harris’ misty spells. Her work on Grid of Points lasts barely beyond 20 minutes, yet these non-worded songs are so rich and pronounced, one can’t exit without feeling the cling of Harris’ magnetic tug.

(You can listen to Grid of Points below via Bandcamp or purchase it digitally or on CD/vinyl here.)