Grouper

Grid of Points

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AllMusic Review by

One of Liz Harris' greatest strengths as an artist is her ability to shift the scope of her work without sacrificing what makes her music so affecting -- she's just as powerful on longer releases like A I A or shorter ones like Grouper's 11th album, Grid of Points. Harris wrote these songs in a week and a half, a cloudburst of creativity that stopped as suddenly as it started when she came down with a fever. At seven songs long, Grid of Points is one of her briefest and seemingly simplest albums. Wisely, Harris didn't try to inflate it into something more elaborate. Instead, she makes the most of her unrivaled skill at capturing the essence of a moment with pieces like "The Races," a snippet of glorious harmonies that feels like it's barely unfolded when it ends. As on Grouper's previous album, Ruins, Grid of Points' focus on voice and piano reaffirms that these are the only elements Harris needs to create something beautiful and moving. The stark instrumentation -- or lack thereof -- puts her melodic gifts at the fore of gracefully cascading tracks such as "Blouse" and "Parking Lot." Similarly, the softly circling vocals on "Thanksgiving Song" are enough without an abundance of processing and effects. When Harris does embellish her harmonies with reverb on "Driving," it only underscores the generous space surrounding her voice. Indeed, the openness within and around Grid of Points' songs heightens the feeling that listeners are just happening to overhear these moments of spontaneous beauty. At the same time, there's something eternal about the chilly, minor-key contemplation of "Birthday Song" and the aptly named closer, "Breathing," which combines meditative harmonies with the drones of a coal engine in a way that feels at once clever and perfectly organic. Harris takes a minimalist approach on Grid of Points, but she imbues it with so much feeling that it could never be called slight.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:49
2
3:31
3
3:47
4
3:33
5
3:21
6
2:44
7
4:01
blue highlight denotes track pick