A masterclass in medicated bleakness

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Grouper – 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'

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Grouper – ‘The Man Who Died In His Boat’

Not to suggest that Liz Harris, otherwise known as Portland-based isolationist Grouper, likes to lay it on thick, but not only is this album named after an actual incident from her adolescence, it’s also culled from songs that didn’t make it onto her last record, the heroically titled ‘Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’. Her music isn’t quite as inert and emotionally crushing as all this might suggest, but it remains a masterclass in medicated bleakness. Urgent folk strumfests tumble through a distortion vortex which – cliché alert – uses tape hiss as an extra instrument. It envelopes you softly, despite being wholly inscrutable.
Noel Gardner