Grouper: A I A (2CD, Kranky, April 2012)

I’d never quite got Grouper (aka Liz Harris) before. I remember the fuss about 2008’s Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill, and at the time I didn’t quite see the attraction. After taking the plunge with this double album, though, I’m a fully paid-up fan. Let’s start with the more conventional half, Alien Observer: the music sounds roughly like a shoegaze band stuck down a treacle well, the mumbled vocals are quietly astonishing, sounding simultaneously echoingly distant and starkly immediate, and the effect is haunting, emotional, and involving. (There was a thing a while back where every other pop chanteuse was being described as Lynchian, apparently because they had a bit of a kooky 50s look and a bit of a woozy retro sound, and yes I’m looking at you Lana Del Rey. That thing was pretty annoying, right? But this, this has a good claim to be described as Lynchian… The Nightingale song from Twin Peaks wouldn’t be totally out of place here.) Dream Loss applies a dreamy ambient wash to the template, creating something more abstract but still essentially melodic. This could be pop music in some strange and beautiful alternate dimension. I think I’d like to live there.

I bought the deluxe re-issue of this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal. (I’m not sure what’s deluxe about it. Incidentally, my copy appears to have a pressing error, and the labels on the two discs are the wrong way around.)

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