And I think I will remain forever thankful for that. My friend texts me this morning and says “we need to talk”. It's the first sunny day in two weeks and I don't have the courage to go outside, I haven't eaten in almost 24 hours. I know things will get worked out eventually, but the hole in my stomach burns more and more than time passes.
Grouper managed to have all those qualities before, but to at least coincide with warmth by the sheer vulnerability of the lyrics and voice. It's the first time on her discography where Harris managed to make something that can transport you to somewhere that don't exist at all, but you remember every detail, every sound, every frequency.
It's just make the character feels so weak, useless yet so real and important. There are some long silences between tracks, which may come of as off-putting at first, especially on an album as short as this one. The sound is very pretty and subdued, as accustomed to her.
The composition seems to be a moderate step up from Ruins, with more elaborate arrangements. Whereas Ruins was very cool due to its apparent spontaneity and realness, this one comes off as a more polished musical product.
Grid of Points is my introduction to Liz Harris and man, this music is sensational. This record is so beautiful and breathtaking, Harris’ voice is so soothing. Grid of Points has replaced Carrie & Lowell for my sleepy time album.
But there is very little variety in sound, it’s just piano and vocals drowned in some echoing effect. It is only 20 minutes long, but I guess there’s only so much you can do with layering vocals over subdued piano melodies.
Hopefully there is more variety, and they’re a little more inventive because as stimulating as Grid of Points is, it’s short and repetitive. Votes are used to help determine the most interesting content on Gym.
Artist Grouper TypeAlbumReleased10 June 2008 Gym Rating 3.74 / 5.00.5 from 7,620 ratings Ranked# 13 for 2008, # 2,434 overall Genres Descriptors ethereal, melancholic, lonely, lo-fi, atmospheric, acoustic, introspective, female vocals, soothing, forest, calm, hypnotic, lethargic, meditative, mellow, soft, spiritual, winter, mysterious, nature, aquatic, nocturnal, psychedelic, depressive, autumn Catalog---To rate, slide your finger across the stars from left to right.
I've always been a sucker for the melancholic, slow, pensive and peaceful kind of music. Lyrics have never been an essential part of any Grouper project for me, with Liz's voice tending to recede into the mix and exist as some ethereal, drowned instrument.
My mother once told mesh walked into the Oceanside't want to disgust couldn't tell where the horizon was And when last night, you slowed the car down to show me how clear the stars looked over the empty Massachusetts field, I felt, for a brief moment, a profound nothingness.
Not the nihilistic melancholia of my pre-teen astronomer dreams, but rather a silent promise: that all this existential whirlwind will one day slow down, and in the aftermath, there will be still been me and carelessness and the remembrance of nostalgia (merely traces of the real thing).and in American lit, books are split up into two categories: those fixated on the past and those fixated on the future. And when the stars are clear again tonight, I will sit under the tree outside my dorm room and peek through the branches to be greeted, once again, by the feeling of everything and nothing all at once.
If I could describe Paradise Valley in one word, it would be cathartic. The first track is drowned in melancholy, and the reversed guitar and soft vocals create a gorgeous atmosphere that is hard not to feel immersed in. Listening to it releases these overwhelming feelings of depression from inside that have been built up over time.
After the release of all these negative emotions, “I’m Clean Now” follows up the track to cleanse the soul and end on a more uplifting note. The dreamy guitar melody is repeated throughout the entire duration of the song; pair that with delicate and soothing vocals and you have a hypnotic piece of music that leaves you in a comforting trance.
Grouper is a mastermind in encapsulating atmosphere and mood, and Paradise Valley is proof of that. The difference between the two tracks is pretty slight, though; whichever one is ultimately better, this is still definitely one of the peaks of her discography. It's a bit strange to think of how easy it was, while writing this, to refer to Liz Harris by her first name alone.
It's not that the lyrics are particularly meaningful to me, or that they come across as explicitly personal accounts of her life such that they create an image of proximity to her, I think it has much more to do with the feeling they evoke. They're awash with reverb, her voice serves as melody and texture at the same time, and the music is, for the most part, very simple and repetitive.
The textures are more like Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill or Alien Observer, but the feel of the songs is different. It's hard to put an exact word to it, 'positive' seems wrong because her music has never been definitively negative (admittedly titles like 'Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill' or 'The Man Who Died in His Boat' aren't going to make for pop hits any time soon) but these songs certainly feel hopeful in a way that her music rarely has been.
The lyrics are as bleak as ever, and, of course, given that it's Grouper it's going to be at least a bit melancholy, but there is a marked difference between this and her past work. In the past, her music has felt like a thick blanket to help stay warm from the cold, but these feel almost the way the album cover looks; as though the sun is rising and the cold that required the blanket in the first place has passed.
I can't imagine ever not wanting to go back to Disengaged or Alien Observer for the Winter warmth they evoke, but these two songs do offer something different, and that they still rank firmly within her best work is real testament to her ongoing, and developing, talent. This need became so cumbersome for my dad and brother that they used to leave me in Tower Records and then go do something else for 3-4 hours.
They’d show up at the end, and I’d still want to go through the punk section for the 5th or 6th time, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Even if I turn it off in 3 seconds and regret ever putting those headphones on and pressing play, I adore the experience of hearing something completely new to me.
I’d take weird turns and check out Boredom or Leonard Cohen or something else that no rural 15-year-old boy in 2003 should be that interested in. After that came college and its Our tunes, Mediatize blogs, and obscure web forums dedicated to Canadian indie rock.
My favorite thing might have been meeting a kid down the hall in your dorm who had a weird fascination with experimental music or death metal or anarcho-punk and swapping external hard drives and pillaging whatever looked cool for your own iTunes library. I no longer can pop open Our tunes and see who’s on my network who was self-confident enough to share their iTunes library with strangers.
I no longer need to remember what “download” is in Portuguese or Russian to pull the new Cat Power record off KylesAwesomeMusicHouse.blogspot.com. While it’s more convenient now than ever, I learned that a huge part of my love of music is hunting for that next record that just wallops me and changes everything.
Now that I’m an adult man with a wife and a house and a dog and a job, I tend to forget all the things I need to check out. ), you just find it online and throw it into your increasingly unmanageable iTunes and hope you get back to it one day.
I don’t really mess with re-releases or special/deluxe editions as separate line items, but hey, if you want to go for it! This is super helpful in making my oh-so-important yearly top 10 lists that no one reads.
If I notice a pattern, I’ll tend to focus more on that label in the future or avoid it more if their releases consistently honk/don’t vibe with me. The second being, I can write things beyond a streaming service or physical medium.
The first time I heard Panic at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was my friend Amber’s Dodge Avenger in high school. The first time I heard The Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime was in my friend Burke’s pickup truck when I was brutally hungover driving from Rowan University back to Philly.
The first time I heard We Were Promised Jetpacks’ These Four Walls was in my friend Steve’s bedroom before we tried to record an ill-fated podcast for Philly.com’s ill-fated music vertical (lots of ill fates here, apparently). This stuff is always fun to capture whenever it happens because it creates a perfect snapshot in time in my musical journey.
Sometimes this is as simple as “This really isn’t for me.” Sometimes it’s a few paragraphs talking about your ex-girlfriend from 14 years ago and how she didn’t “get” Hate breed. A few years into the great spreadsheet project, I realized that having all my info logged into the Google ecosystem was probably going to bite me in the ass at some point.
I download the spreadsheet locally every so often and squirrel it away in a few spots, but to further back up this data, I started a Rate Your Music account. The important thing to know about the playlists is that they only include the first song of the album I’m about to listen to.
So if the total song count of a playlist is 100, that’s 100 albums that I plan on one day listening to. I tend to value current releases that I haven’t slightly more than older stuff to keep up with the culture at large.
As a small aside, one thing I’ve been trying to do is branch out of my musical comfort zone on a VERY regular basis. So the formula I built to jam stuff into immediacy is a bit all over the place, but it also stops me from having playlist after playlist of white guys singing songs about girls that won’t return their texts.
However, when I viewed it initially, it struck me how little of the world’s music I’ve actually heard. The solution for this was to look at the map every time I build an Immediacy playlist, find a country without a dot on it, and then use Gym ’s chart function to find the most popular record from that country.
I’ve gone through all the South American countries, and I hope to start Africa by year’s end. Now not only do I know it exists but that there’s a group of ladies called Feeling Real from there, and their record Las Pale from the 1980s is awesome.
Once I realized that I started to seek out more music that falls outside my zone of comfort. One great way to do that, I’ve found, was to run a Gym chart of the top hip-hop records that I haven’t rated previously and force myself to pay attention to that perspective.
I’m totally sure at some point this will no longer offer something meaningful, as I’ve listened to most of the hip-hop canon. At that point, I’m sure I’ll need to look inward to what voices I’ve been ignoring and address that then.
My first move is to search for it on Spotify, but if it’s not there, I try to find a YouTube or Band camp link, and then I tuck it away in a Pocket folder. I’ve absolutely found some gems by doing this, though, and because of that, I feel that it’s continuously worthwhile.
So for the foreseeable future, At the time of writing, I’m going to listen to an listened record from the following artists each time I build the Immediacy playlist: Johnny Cash (1950’s), Pink Floyd (1960’s), Bruce Springsteen (1970’s), Agnostic Front (1980’s), Marilyn Manson (1990’s), Animal Collective (2000’s) and Deaf heaven (2010’s). I find one of the best ways to keep the more arduous parts of my day interesting is to have a record I’ve never heard before playing while I do my daily tasks.
This process really seeks to organize all the recommendations I get through all sources into one central workflow, so nothing gets missed. I don’t want to be one of those dudes in their 30s who waxes poetic about how music was better when they were in college.