The Man Who Died In His Boat

The Man Who Died In His Boat

You might call Liz Harris—who performs as Grouper—an ambient artist. And you'd be half right. On its own, the word "ambient" sometimes implies too much distance, a sort of otherworldly sense of atmosphere. Grouper's music is ambient, but it's also deeply intimate, raw, and personal, even though the lyrics are elusive and the song shapes are as amorphous as water. Harris is a prolific and fascinating artist; the numerous albums in her catalog since 2005 ping-pong between ethereal folk and ambient psychedelia. Her songs don't cling to your inner ear due to hooks or melodies; they invade your senses like an incubus or virus. (We mean that in a good way!) Her hazy, delicate vocals float over layers of ambient hiss, sparse piano, and drifting guitar notes or muffled industrial noise. From a downcast, droney strum (from an open-tuned acoustic guitar) on numbers like "Cloud in Places" to haunted instrumental interludes like "Vanishing Point," The Man Who Died is an artful piece of work that's hard to shake. These songs were written around the time of her 2008 album Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, and feel very much apiece of that effort.

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