Boomkat Product Review:
Liz Harris (Grouper) and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma join forces for a second time on an impossibly downcast new album of tape-dubbed, smudged and forlorn songs memorializing their friend and collaborator Paul Clipson, R.I.P.
The last time Harris, Cantu-Ledesma and Clipson performed together was in 2016, at Marfa Myths festival in Texas. They spent time in the studio the week of the festival, but shelved the material until Clipson tragically died in 2018. "Daughter captures a strange time spent in the desert, later added to, edited and finally made sense of after we lost the friend we’d been there with," Harris writes in the album's notes. It's a somber set, intended to be absorbed as a whole.
The two artists carefully splice human/environmental elements with resonant piano and stretched guitar drones, tape hiss with whispered, indistinct vocals and the distant whirr of an 8mm film projector. With its requiem qualities in focus, the constituent parts of Harris and Cantu-Ledesma's compositions take on an almost spiritual quality: on 'Revolving Door', piano notes hang like chiming church bells, footsteps tread the pebbles and grit; and when birdsong cuts in harshly on 'Daughter'. it sounds like a kind of ascent. 'Lullaby’ plays like a distant memory, a music box taped to dictaphone, melting past, present and future, guiding us to the stunning 20-minute closer, 'Passage', a frozen meditation for piano, grain clouds and weightless hum.
It's a fitting way to consider and appreciate Paul Clipson's life and his years of creative companionship with the duo; although it’s undeniably and resolutely sad, cracks of joyful radiance continue to permeate throughout, perhaps representing the light that Clipson brought to so many.