Boomkat Product Review:
The patron saint of maudlin romantics, Liz Harris (Grouper) adopts the Nivhek alias for this suite of freeform, glossolalic elegies, featuring a brief guest turn by Kiwi rock legend Michael Morley (The Dead C, Gate), and jointly dispensed between her Yellow Electric label and Superior Viaduct’s W.25th
In two main movements comprising nine titled parts, Harris typically conjures a sense of stately calm underlined with menacing drones. However, the feeling is less bleeding heart and soporific, and perhaps better defined as floating and airily introspective. It’s a subtle but crucial distinction that resonates with her change of moniker and the widely reverberating dimensions and dynamics of the Nikhek sound.
While the aforementioned guest Michel Morley is notable in his own right, and joined by Gabie Strong and Christopher Reid Martin on the two minutes of ‘Crying Jar’, the work is primarily by Harris, who alternates between steepled choral harmonies and long, plangent sections of gristly synth drone, spindly guitar and instrumental, melodic percussion (maybe marimba or gamelan?) that colours the air with a beaten gold quality. In many ways it sounds like Liz was left to her own devices in an abandoned church and she captured the results, as is, Áine O’Dwyer style, replete with external sounds of birdsong, possible distant road traffic and her visiting friends all detectable in the meridian.
For anyone at this point overly familiar with Liz Harris’ style (hands up, obsessives), this album practically opens a new window to her world, letting fresh air and space diffuse her feels into a more elusive, ponderous way that’s as refreshing as it is uncannily familiar, especially when she drops the vocals for long periods, but one can still imagine their trace there, lingering in the air.