It was released on June 10, 2008, on Type Records. The album was later reissued alongside Grouper's The Man Who Died in His Boat in 2013 by Cranky.
Professional ratingsAggregate scoresSourceRating Meta critic 80/100 Review scoresSourceRating Music Drowned in Sound 9/10 Mojo Pitchfork 8.2/10 Formatters 9/10 Mike McGonagall of Pitchfork described Dragging a DeadDeerUp a Hill as “druggy and sexy and arty and pretty, but never pretentious”, calling it “an arresting album of pastoral psychedelic pop “. In 2018, Pitchfork ranked it at number six on its list of the 30 best dream pop albums.
“Fishing Bird (Empty Gutted in the Evening Breeze)”3:517.” Invisible”3:558. “I'm Dragging a DeadDeerUp a Hill “2:219.
“We've All Gone to Sleep”3:03Total length: 45:41 ^ “The 30 Best Dream Pop Albums”. Grouper : Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill ".
^ Grouper : Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill “. Liz Harris first two Grouper albums, Way Their Crept and Wide, consisted mostly of layers of her pristine vocals blanketed in drones, reverb, and distortion until they blurred into a blissful, and sometimes eerie, haze.
Fragile acoustic and electric guitars and the occasional keyboard also bring this album more down to earth than Grouper's earlier work, but the music never feels stifled or limited -- if anything, the added structure lets these songs take flight and reach peaks of beauty that Wide and Way Their Crept only glimpsed. Dragging a DeadDeerUp a Hill's soft, intricate layers have their roots in late-'80s/early-'90s dream pop (and the work of the Cocteau Twins and early His Name Is Alive in particular -- Home Is in Your Head could be this album's great-great-grandmother), but Grouper's take is looser and more organic; there's a reason many of the song titles feature nature imagery (“Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping,” “Traveling Through a Sea”).
Condition: Country/Region of Manufacture: United States Record Size: 12" Style: Alternative/Indie, Experimental Rock, Lo-Fi Record Label: Cranky Duration: LP Genre: Rock Record Grading: Mint (M) Sleeve Grading: Near Mint (NM or M-) Speed: 33RPM UPC: Free shipping on all eligible items from speargoredrecords, when you use the cart to make your purchase.
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Summary: The third album for the Portland, Oregon-based indie pop singer Liz Harris. A psych-folk bent for harmonic discord and atmospheric dread finds something forever sinister lodged at the album's heart: the kind of beauty that makes sailors run aground.
This Liz, however, can still produce a satisfying forty-five minutes or so of 4AD-styled mysterious, drifting morphia (complete with acoustic guitars and pretty vocals), and that’s rare enough that Grouper are worth watching. Grouper craft a compelling listen with Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill.
From the first track, the vocals and the minimalist approach to their Grouper craft a compelling listen with Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. From the first track, the vocals and the minimalist approach to their sound are haunting.
The production I thought was fantastic for being an independent record. Grouper managed to not only make a great record, but blow me away in the process.
This is otherworldly and while it is influenced by shoe gaze, coming in 2008 it's a record that was miles ahead of the dream/lo-fi wave that This is otherworldly and while it is influenced by shoe gaze, coming in 2008 it's a record that was miles ahead of the dream/lo-fi wave that came out of the states in the years that followed. At the records core is a voice and acoustic guitar but it is far removed from a singer-songwriter album.
Swamped in echo and swirling reverb with some ambient synths mixed in the background, this is the music you hear when your lost in a dream or when your mind is altered so your surroundings are unfamiliar. This album hits the nervous system in a way that is chemical.
Be warned, it takes quite a few listens to get into as initially it all blended into one for me but as I revisited the layers revealed themselves. More commonly known as Liz Harris, she's become a real cult smash on the underground in the past 2-3 years and many of us here have been seduced.
I think this album has been out for years on Type but is HIGHLY sought after on vinyl. Many of her works are built around elements such as long, decaying, fuzzed-out drift 'n' drone washes, often with eerie, gliding disembodied vocals hovering spectrally in the ether.
There's a lot of hazily strummed acoustic guitar plus a deliciously weird chamber vibe throughout and her (beautiful) voice sounds multi-tracked & amorphous which adds a real air of other worldliness & mystique to proceedings! This is a more intimate song-based album than some of her ghostlier outings and I think there's definitely strong psych-folk elements to this record.
I'd surely recommend it to fans of Christina Carter in that there's something beautifully ethereal yet very earthy & pure about this Woman's music. After rooms of portraits, full of delicate religious figures, historical depictions and general personages of import, the paintings suddenly, almost magically transform.
Instead of the staid, steady lines, the colors start to melt into one another; figures become absorbed into the landscape itself, the light and shade of everyday life taking prominence over historical or religious narrative. Perhaps part of the power of Impressionism is the way it approaches the individual; art suddenly becomes extremely subjective, the canvas becoming a means of conveying the artist’s particular ‘impression’ of a moment (perhaps the most famous example being Monet’s half-blind work at Given) onto the viewer.
Portland resident Liz Harris) new record, Dragging a DeadDeerUp a Hill, can simultaneously be one of the most delicate, affecting albums of the year, and, yet, at the same time have such a strange, menacing name. The emotion that predominates throughout is that selfsame exploration of slipping into the shadows, into the nether spaces between states: three of the song titles reference transitory motions (‘Sleeping’, ‘Travelling’, ‘ Dragging ).
Album opener ‘Disengaged’ starts with a furious wall of roaring noise that gradually subsides as the track gives way to the extraordinary fragility of ‘Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping’. Indeed, the opposite is true, Harris’s unintelligible lyrics drifting in and out of the songs, each track based more around rhythm than traditional ‘loud-quiet’ structure.
Back in 2013 when The Man Who Died In His Boat came out, I glanced at the album cover and thought it looked like some overly serious indie-rock band in the vein of The National, something that at that time held no interest for me. When her next album, Ruins, came out in 2014, I finally came to realize that I was actually missing out and decided to include the slightly older song Being Her Shadow from The Man Who Died in His Boat in a “new music” playlist I had.
It was so delicately beautiful, so unlike what I had assumed it would sound like for all these years, that I sat in my living room completely mesmerized for the next four minutes. I’m still not even close to getting my metaphoric and literal hands on all the various collaborations, installations, limited releases, etcetera that Harris has put out over the course of her career.
Both of these songs are arresting beautiful and vulnerable, and exemplify what is my favorite thing about Grouper : the intimacy inherent in her music. For the most part, Harris’s vocals rarely rise above a mumbled whisper, forcing you to concentrate hard just to catch a word here and there.
If you listen closely, you can even hear Harris let out her breath at the end of “Heavy Water…,” a byproduct of the lo-fi recording style, but a beautiful detail nonetheless. I fell back onto my sofa, closed my eyes, and sunk into the sounds as Harris’s whispers and piano and ambient drones wrapped themselves around me like a worn in quilt.
Between the deep, expansive reverb, the structural elasticity of songs, the similarity of the overall sound of songs, and the temptation to let Liz Harris’ singing float by without deciphering the lyrics, Dragging A DeadDeerUp A Hill (A+ album name) can serve as an invitation to lose yourself. I listened to it on a Sunday morning run in Bay Head, New Jersey, sharing the side of the road with other runners, walkers, and pairs of people in flip-flops carrying to-go coffee cups.
I saw a crowd waiting outside a packed Mueller’s Bakery, and a kid across the street being taught how to catch crabs with a string and a chicken neck. All this cyclical behavior that kicks up with the warm weather and that will continue until the ocean swallows the area up, hopefully many years from now.
I spent too long this week trying to work out what Liz Harris was actually singing about on Dragging A DeadDeerUp A Hill. I’ve never been the biggest fan of melodic psychedelic pop; even in those quiet, serene moments I have to myself, I prefer listening to folk or acoustic indie.
The album mostly consists of gentle piano and strummed acoustic guitar and it produces a relaxing ambient experience. Songs wash in and out like the tide of the ocean, staying just long enough that you get your feet wet, but not too much that you drown under the weight of the sound.
A comment I saw on the internet this week described it as a “45-minute lullaby,” with Harris’ voice rarely changing key as songs come and go. The “HVO Sound,” as we’ve come to know it, is ambient, muffled, melodic, sometimes morose, sometimes triumphant, always emotional.
With the cardinal song Disengaged,” Liz Harris carefully cultivates such a lovely patina of haze as sonic agitation gives way to gently driven Rhodes piano and vocals so gorgeously submerged it evokes chills. Dental’s religious imagery would serve a most amenable backdrop as melodies and accompaniments emerge into and recede from focus.
Here’s a basic reminder that it takes a careful & talented artist to create music this expansive & meticulous, even if it is somewhat “simple.” I’ve had yet another long week full of too much activity and too little sleep, but today I’m finally able to laze around at home with nothing much to do in particular.
Having heard about Grouper for years, I never really checked out their work due to some of their common association points. Instead, I find myself picking up aspects of EMA, Jose Gonzalez, and early Iron & Wine from this album.
Nothing here sounds like any one of those artists; indeed, it’s more like a strange crossbreed, in which the quiet, somewhat morose melodies of the latter two integrate with EMA’s bedroom tape explorations and focuses on the noises that surround her performance instead of the guitars and vocals themselves. There are times when the huge overlay of echo and reverb that dominates most of these songs gets stripped away, as on A Cover One,” and you get to hear what amounts to a pleasant folk tune with only a minimum of post-performance effects.
The other extreme is Tidal Wave,” a humming vibe of a song in which wordless vocals dominate the mix and any guitars that exist are buried to the point of significant obliteration by the echo effects they’re run through. The happiest medium for me come to my personal album highlight, Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping,” a beautiful acoustic folk song with only partly intelligible lyrics but a truly gorgeous vocal.
Liz Harris’ lyrics in her personal and intimate record Dragging A DeadDeerUp A Hill are focused on dreams and water and are often dark: “In dreams I’m moving through heavy water / the love is enormous/it’s lifting me up / I’d rather be sleeping / I’d rather fall into tidal waves / and go right where the deepest currents go” from Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping.” All the references to water and sleep made me think of tortured artist Edna Montpellier from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, who, in the last page of the novella, kills herself by drowning in the Gulf of Mexico. Chopin wrote of the water calling out to Edna, “the voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, humoring, inviting the soul the wander in the abysses of solitude.” Dragging A DeadDeerUp A Hill feels like that solitude, when one is lost in dreams and the waves and depth of the ocean seem relaxing and comforting.
Grouper, the not DE drone of Liz Harris, never quite resolves that melody, however, increasing the impression that she’s really singing to herself. For the rest of the album, I picture her with her back to the closet door, hair hanging over her face as she embraces her guitar like a life raft, strumming and singing as the harmonics gather around her in a protective cloud.
Under the genre section on the Wikipedia page for Grouper, it lists “Ambient, Drone, Folk Experimental, Dream Pop.” That was when it became clear to me that I had been listening to the album wrong. Letting the music wash over me, put me in a very relaxed, meditative state of mind and it became clear how beautiful it is.
Press your fingers against the bridge of your nose, close your eyes, breathe slowly and let your imagination drift from the pressures encapsulating you. And to know there is a greater extension of material to examine from Grouper, as well as more to discover about Harris, should be a long sonic journey ahead of me and that leaves me full of excitement.
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