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Grouper|Shade

Shade

Grouper

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Liz Harris' music as Grouper is always beautiful, but Shade is perhaps the first of her albums that reflects most, if not all, of the different ways in which it's beautiful. At once old and new, the record gathers 15 years' worth of previously unreleased music that Harris recorded in Portland and Astoria, Oregon, and at a residency at Mount Tamalpais, California. Juxtaposing pieces from such an extended period of time allows the nuances -- or shades -- of Harris' approach to coexist brilliantly. The buffeting lo-fi atmospheres and comforting hiss of "Followed the Ocean" give the impression of tuning into an extra-staticky broadcast of a long-forgotten song, or hearing a snippet of it in a windstorm, but the crystalline whispers and acoustic guitar of "Unclean Mind" are just as mysteriously moving. There's always been a tangibility to Grouper's music, thanks to Harris' exquisite use of textures, many of which come from the locations where she records. On Shade, her pieces feel like natural extensions of their environment, whatever that environment may be. The hum of the room and the squeak of the guitar strings become vital elements of "Promise," a love song so intimate it feels like it should only be heard by the person Harris wrote it about; a hooting owl punctuates the gorgeous finale "Kelso Blue Sky," a more traditionally structured song that nevertheless remains true to her vision of ambient music. The vérité feel of "The Way Her Hair Falls" as Harris stops and starts over captures the honesty of her performance as well as the paths the song's shadowy melody takes. Similarly, even when she creates cavernous spaces, an element of closeness remains, as on "Basement Mix," a humbly named but mesmerizing collage of echo-laden guitar arpeggios and vocal harmonies. With its balance of eras, sounds, and short and extended songs, Shade has the depth of a career retrospective and the freshness of a new album, both of which make it especially appealing to new and longtime Grouper fans alike.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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Shade

Grouper

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1
Followed the ocean
00:02:54

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

2
Unclean mind
00:03:51

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

3
Ode to the blue
00:02:53

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

4
Pale Interior
00:03:51

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

5
Disordered Minds
00:04:34

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

6
The way her hair falls
00:02:35

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

7
Promise
00:02:49

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

8
Basement Mix
00:05:17

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

9
Kelso (Blue sky)
00:06:15

Grouper, MainArtist - Liz Harris, Composer

(C) 2021 kranky (P) 2021 kranky

Album Description

Liz Harris' music as Grouper is always beautiful, but Shade is perhaps the first of her albums that reflects most, if not all, of the different ways in which it's beautiful. At once old and new, the record gathers 15 years' worth of previously unreleased music that Harris recorded in Portland and Astoria, Oregon, and at a residency at Mount Tamalpais, California. Juxtaposing pieces from such an extended period of time allows the nuances -- or shades -- of Harris' approach to coexist brilliantly. The buffeting lo-fi atmospheres and comforting hiss of "Followed the Ocean" give the impression of tuning into an extra-staticky broadcast of a long-forgotten song, or hearing a snippet of it in a windstorm, but the crystalline whispers and acoustic guitar of "Unclean Mind" are just as mysteriously moving. There's always been a tangibility to Grouper's music, thanks to Harris' exquisite use of textures, many of which come from the locations where she records. On Shade, her pieces feel like natural extensions of their environment, whatever that environment may be. The hum of the room and the squeak of the guitar strings become vital elements of "Promise," a love song so intimate it feels like it should only be heard by the person Harris wrote it about; a hooting owl punctuates the gorgeous finale "Kelso Blue Sky," a more traditionally structured song that nevertheless remains true to her vision of ambient music. The vérité feel of "The Way Her Hair Falls" as Harris stops and starts over captures the honesty of her performance as well as the paths the song's shadowy melody takes. Similarly, even when she creates cavernous spaces, an element of closeness remains, as on "Basement Mix," a humbly named but mesmerizing collage of echo-laden guitar arpeggios and vocal harmonies. With its balance of eras, sounds, and short and extended songs, Shade has the depth of a career retrospective and the freshness of a new album, both of which make it especially appealing to new and longtime Grouper fans alike.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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