February will see a new album from Portland’s renowned ambient/experimental artist, Grouper a.k.a. Liz Harris. The new album is entitled The Man Who Died in His Boat and will be released on February 4th via Kranky.
The first song to be released from the album is Vital, which you can listen to below. The new track belongs to the more accessible, melodic category of Grouper’s catalogue, showing that Harris is equally vigorous when building on melody and structure as when creating seamless, ambient soundscapes. The overall feel of the song is typical Grouper; weightlessness, mist and serenity mixed with impending doom. Grouper’s music tends to always be large yet subtly displayed and on Vital she balances minimalism and expanding sounds perfectly. Gentle fingertips grace the guitar-strings in a setting that keeps swelling as the song progresses. Hovering above the song as a big dark cloud is a constantly present static, pressing down on the soft and gentle.
Harris’s rarely utilizes her voice in such an effective way as on Vital. On this track her usually light-sensitive vocals take the forefront, overlapping and adding a very potent choir of harmonies to the shifting sounds that envelope the song.