Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill (Type)


Way Their Crept directed shadows. In a deep and subtle manner, it portrayed the evocative power of a system, a spiritual architecture characterized by uncertainty and waiting. It’s swooning mixture of ambient grinding, buzzes, clicks and etherreal voices mutated into labyrinths and fibrous interlacing of overlapping drones and looping tones that always seemed on the verge of revelation.

Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is a far more immediate affair. Liz Harris’ voice has a celestial sonorous quality that seems to come from deep within her. Over the course of the album, she conjures melodies and vocal lines that last. A soaring whinnying line of guitar feedback still seeps through the albums pores every now and again, but it’s less scabrous, more temperate, regulated, and blended with a more personal, infolded, reflective emotional presence. “I’d Rather Be Sleeping” floats through this vein. Draped in shadowy production, Harris pares the structure of the song to a minimum, relying on questing and edgy guitar to convey mood, with a powerful if slack bass-line periodically making a midnight prowl through it.

The direct and concerted movements of these pieces don’t in any particular way blaspheme against the principles of past full-lengths, and the album itself is far from debasing. When works such as “Invisible” and “When We Fall” commence, based around looping melody lines, and clusters of grainy sonic vibration, Harris’ pleasure and delight in the timbre and shape of her full-bodied intonations are evident and most effective.

If a few selections begin with promise, but fizzle out messily after a short while, no matter, the weight and significance of the album as a whole more than carries the day, even with its durational and timbral predictabilities. “We’ve All Time To Sleep” is the final rite performed over the dead deer Harris has been lumbering behind her. The cottony cadence of her voice is like an aureole overtop a jammed repetitive guitar and faceless sounds sweeping into the obscure background. “We’ve all gone to sleep/We’ve all gone to bed” she murmurs, her words and vocal harmonies revealing, as did her abscess textures in past works, a fascination and concern for fatality – the same ineffectual torpor that presided over the advent of all this work also harkens its demise, its retreat behind this somber veneer. Telling music, and this time in a language open to all.

Max Schaefer


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