Grouper
The Man Who Died in His Boat



Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist


When dealing with someone as cryptic and perpetually uncertain as ambient musician Liz "Grouper" Harris, it would be too easy to simply write off The Man Who Died In His Boat as a collection of B-sides from her 2007 breakout Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. Not to fault such a concept to begin with; the songs present here almost feel like they came from a completely separate album, with only occasional call-backs to compositions that would make the final cut and beyond. But in a way it feels like more of a re-imagining; taking the tone and core ideas of the latter, and giving them a new coat of paint. The album's production is reflective of the much softer and lightweight style that Grouper developed beginning with A I A, as well as feeling noticeably less lo-fi in the long run with how much the folky guitars are soaked in ambiance and haziness.

"Vital", for instance, serves as an appropriate introduction to this new perspective; whereas Dragging's opener "Disengaged" was an immediate gut punch of melancholy that informed us of the album's tone by way of harsh, reverbed guitar jabs and strained vocals, "Vital" provides a somewhat more optimistic outlook, gliding by with a soft guitar line that never falters and maneuvers around semi-intelligible yet comforting lyrics at a gentle pace. Generally speaking, this is a quieter affair. Everything is mixed at a lower volume and the guitars and vocals feel a bit more contained, bringing us closer and within a tighter space to Grouper's psychedelic folk tinkerings. Granted there are also instances where her signature drone sound from the three prior records is fully embraced, with tracks like "STS" and "Vanishing Point" taking the dreamlike nature of the folk tracks to their logical extreme, and providing for quite the relaxing soundscape.

But, as is the case with many of Miss Harris' works, at the center lies an emotional resonance that sticks with you, which is ultimately what elevates this beyond a remixed compilation. As slightly indecipherable as they may be, the supposed themes of religion, enlightenment, relationships and human nature can be somewhat unraveled on repeat listens, and make the album feel more whole, as if these songs were meant to come together all along. There's a faint relatability to her writings, a sense of longing to be heard that's held down underneath one's inability to communicate. "For all of us at this ill-fitting party/Busy pretending to relate/It is getting harder and harder to fake/Acting like everything's in its place" she croons in album closer "Living Room", with some surprisingly coherent lyricism. In a way, the fact that songs like these, spurred off from the outtakes of a previous album, can feel so complete and complimentary towards one another, is a testament to Grouper's creative output, and a sign that the sky is hardly the limit as far as her talents as a songwriter go.



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user ratings (152)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Froot
June 27th 2016


1909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been a good while since my last review, but there are some albums I've wanted to talk about in text for a while now, and I felt maybe this would be a good place to start. This album sorely needed a review whatever the case.



This was jotted down out of nowhere in an hour, and there's a few lines I'm suspect of but I'll wait and see if people say anything.

Sinternet
June 27th 2016


10469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good album/review

Digging: Edie Brickell - Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars

zaruyache
June 27th 2016


14882 Comments


Still really need to give her discog a serious listen. Pos'd.

Digging: City of the Sun - To the Sun and All the Cities in Between

brainmelter
June 27th 2016


3172 Comments


sweet

Digging: Jinsang - Solitude

demigod!
September 18th 2016


48887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best b sides ever

Digging: Amon Tobin - Out From Out Where

GmemberKills
November 12th 2016


2451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is way better than a 3.6 avg

YakNips
November 12th 2016


18665 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

agreed and only 6 comments wtf

Digging: Virginia Genta / Chris Corsano - The Live In Lisbon

GmemberKills
November 12th 2016


2451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well i just bumped and it went to a 3.7 so i feel a tiny bit better



the lack of comments though... i mean I like this more than dead deer

GmemberKills
November 18th 2016


2451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

was is wrong with you people........

StarlessCore
November 18th 2016


4036 Comments


its good, dead deer is way better

Digging: The Weeknd - Starboy

GmemberKills
November 18th 2016


2451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i actually prefer this to dead deer, and don't see that much of a difference in quality

YakNips
November 18th 2016


18665 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

they're both without flaw i'd say

Dewinged
November 18th 2016


465 Comments


I liked the song she made with The Bug. Time to check her stuff.

Digging: Marriages - Salome

Relinquished
November 18th 2016


33887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

idk a few tracks aren't effective and undeveloped, vacuous even for grouper to me

DrMaximus
November 18th 2016


12019 Comments


"i actually prefer this to dead deer, and don't see that much of a difference in quality"
You're lying, right?

YakNips
November 18th 2016


18665 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

love hearing her work in more sparse arrangements, these songs don't feel like b-sides to me at all

GmemberKills
November 18th 2016


2451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love just how bleak and challenging the sounds are on this at times compared to dead deer



tracks like "vanshing point" & "sts" are ambient masterpieces in my eyes, and "being her shadow" and "living room" are some of my favorites by her period.



this flows so nice as well, doesn't feel like some thrown together comp

Relinquished
November 18th 2016


33887 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea some sound perfect within dead deer and wide

StarlessCore
November 18th 2016


4036 Comments


cover the windows hella underrated

YakNips
November 18th 2016


18665 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

true dat. i think ruins is the pinnacle of her working in a more sparse atmosphere tho



really hope she puts out something new soon



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