Grouper
Ruins


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
October 26th, 2014 | 139 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Baby, it's cold outside.

Ruins. What a fitting title that is. I have played with this theme in the past - comparing album titles with the content, drawing different parallels and whatnot, yet it never ceases to intrigue. Ruins is a memento of disrepair; I envision Grouper, aka Liz Harris, gathering the pieces of a love lost, or soon to be. If there is passion, it is long subdued. Imagine the flood of emotions as you watch your family home burn down, then imagine the resignation as you sift through the ashes afterwards. Grouper has always been cryptic in delivery, but she carries the burden of grave disappointment in both past and future tense. There is lamentation, thereby a lack of optimism; some things can’t be salvaged. Still, Ruins rises like a phoenix, though marred by soot and dejection. Given how utterly circumstantial its creation was, it’s fitting that appreciation for Grouper’s latest album follows suit. While we certainly weren’t there during its inception, a true reverence for Ruins implies a desire to place yourself in Liz Harris’ home, exposed to what is arguably her most intimate album to date.

The opening track “Made of Metal” is composed of ascending thuds resembling a foreboding anxiety - similar to repeating ‘it’s going to be fine' persistently, albeit pointlessly. As the song apexes, a worrisome tone ferments. The following songs feature stripped down piano melodies coinciding with Harris’ hushed vocals. Despite her warm presence, she bears a facade, hinting at potential disaster. “Take your sad song” she tells me, knowing all too well the double-edged sword of seeking comfort in dark spaces. She sings with a calm realization, or perhaps the fitting term is ‘acceptance’ - as though she has played out every negative scenario to exhaustion, and has gradually come to terms. Like any album toying with halcyon builds, Ruins is best enjoyed in one sitting, though one can imagine how unsettling a fragmented listen might be - I’ll leave you to experiment. The first few tracks are feathery stepping stones to the closing pieces “Holding” and “Made of Air”. “Holding” is easily a standout dirge, featuring gorgeous, somber melodies and a heart-wrenching progression as Harris whispers her sweet proverbial nothings. The decade old follow-up “Made of Air” is devoid of vocals, and ends the album on a troubling note, alluding to the unexpected - that godawful sense of doubt. This particular recording offers a flashback, bearing a reflective consternation as though Grouper is drawing on hazy past experiences, yielding more questions than answers. There’s luxury in certainty, and we often take it for granted until it’s ripped away, leaving us to cope without methods.

Ruins isn’t overtly eventful, and risks passing in one ear and out the other. For an impression to be made, a personal association seems vital. While certainly well-established, Harris’ music feels like it’s ‘all yours’ - your own hiding place. Indeed, it’s not immediately apparent, and admittedly I was fully prepared to let Ruins pass me by. However, for no particular reason, something clicked as I was thinking about some irrelevant anecdote - funny how that works. I’ll spare you the ugly details, but this personal account consists of my then-failing marriage. It wasn’t heated or anything - more of a mutual disappointment with bittersweet connotations. This is what Ruins is, based on my personal association; it is the soothing texture of Grouper’s voice alongside the encroaching terror of losing her, and self-imposed isolation. Yet, there are brief moments strewn throughout the recordings exhibiting sounds of nature, letting the listener put one foot out the door. Despite the overcast pervading Ruins, the world continues on, indifferently. Wind blows, frogs croak, and I sip cheap liquor at 3 in the afternoon, disengaged with my spouse as I give my undivided attention to Liz Harris. I swear, you’ll be the death of me... I’ll drink to that. Cheers.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jots
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2014


7341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://www.kranky.net you can purchase it from the website, as well as iTunes and Amazon

props to ComeToDaddy for proofreading

LilLioness
October 26th 2014


2994 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gotta check this shit. Her record from last year was amazing.

Ryus
October 26th 2014


23388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes johnny. great review, agree with pretty much everything you said here

Digging: Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless

ExplosiveOranges
October 26th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Auto-pos, will read later.

JamieTwort
October 26th 2014


26988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice and very personal review, pos'd.



Still haven't listened to this despite it leaking a while ago. Will probably order the vinyl release tomorrow. It's definitely one of the albums I've been most looking forward to this year.

Taxt
October 26th 2014


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm loving this, nice review

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2014


19348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Just listened to some of A I A for the first time, will probably check this next

Digging: Sweet Trip - Walkers Beware! We Drive Into The Sun / Stab/Slow

climactic
October 26th 2014


22541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

deff get Dragging next, borderline masterpiece

YakNips
October 26th 2014


19993 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

amazing

DrMaximus
October 26th 2014


12768 Comments


Truest thing you've ever said, climmy

Tyrael
October 26th 2014


21112 Comments


I hate 2014 there's way too much awesome music coming out I can't listen to all of it argh

treeqt.
October 26th 2014


16970 Comments


yes you can, you just have to want it harder

Pangea
October 26th 2014


6421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Call Across Rooms is really beautiful. Pos'd by the way

Digging: Charles Mingus - Tijuana Moods

Jots
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2014


7341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks guys

JS19
October 26th 2014


7731 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review

SeaAnemone
October 26th 2014


21429 Comments


yeah best album probably a 3.8

Phlegm
October 26th 2014


7248 Comments


gonna read this later, u rock



Holding is song of the year

BallsToTheWall
October 26th 2014


50351 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

2 songs in and its safe to say i can 5 this.

Digging: Ansome - Hounds of the Harbor

Ryus
October 26th 2014


23388 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

almost as good as dadduah

demigod!
October 26th 2014


49332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i gotta get this now



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