Shade

Grouper

Shade

Listening to Liz Harris’ music as Grouper, the word that comes to mind is “psychedelic.” Not in the cartoonish sense—if anything, the Astoria, Oregon-based artist feels like a monastic antidote to spectacle of almost any kind—but in the subtle way it distorts space and time. She can sound like a whisper whose words you can’t quite make out (“Pale Interior”) and like a primal call from a distant hillside (“Followed the ocean”). And even when you can understand what she’s saying, it doesn’t sound like she meant to be heard (“The way her hair falls”). The paradox is one of closeness and remove, of the intimacy of singer-songwriters and the neutral, almost oracular quality of great ambient music. That the tracks on Shade, her 12th LP, were culled from a 15-year period is fitting not just because it evokes Harris’ machine consistency (she found her creative truth and she’s sticking to it), but because of how the staticky, white-noise quality of her recordings makes you aware of the hum of the fridge and the hiss of the breeze: With Grouper, it’s always right now.

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