Boomkat Product Review:
At this point you shouldn’t need any introduction to Liz Harris, better known to most as Grouper. She’s got a few albums and splits under her belt now, but chances are the first time you came across her music was the stunningy beautiful modern classic ‘Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’, released back in 2008. It was the distinct and singular blend of shimmering dream-pop and tape-mangled noise that had just about anyone worth their salt in awe of her music, so you can imagine the hype surrounding this brand new record. Ah, but then it’s not only one record is it? A I A is two full forty minute full-lengths, and rather than a traditional double, these are two very distinct albums, each one with its own focus and style. ‘Alien Observer’ might be the more outwardly song-based of the two records, and while the songs aren’t necessarily as clearly defined as those on ‘Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’, they slowly and pointedly push up through Liz’s familiar gaseous layers of drone. Her distinct, breathy tones are initially barely audible over the mudded harmonies, starting life as ghostly echoes, but the further you get into each track the more clearly defined shapes start to emerge. It's music that no doubt changes with each listen and listener – you're left to fill in the gaps, and while we can hear the heaving breaths of the Cocteau Twins, The Red House Painters and This Mortal Coil wrenching themselves from the subconscious, you would probably come to a different conclusion altogether. ‘Alien Observer’ is a markedly different record from its predecessor, and comes across as a deeply thoughtful blend of the harrowing, sincere experiments of Liz’s early records and the sort of songwriting that lodged ‘Heavy Water’ in our collective memory back in 2008. Needless to say, this album and its duskier ally ‘Dream Loss’ are likely to set high water mark for this kind of thing in 2011 - Unmissable doesn’t even come close.