Oh the dreamy sounds of Grouper, how is it that you so mellifluously consume my both my conscious and subconscious mind while your records turn on my turntable, and why can I not control my hand each time that it flips your vinyl platters in a near incessant buffeting of my weary mind? AIA: Alien Observer is the sister album to the simultaneously released AIA: Dream Loss and somehow accomplishes similar musical motifs (and emotional affectations) while also having subtle shifts and ever so hard to notice differences to make AIA: Alien Observer stand on its own two feet.
Spellbinding is one word that anyone listening to AIA: Alien Observer might describe the album's musical effect on them while Harris's vocals bewitch their mind with their swirling siren call, and while the vocals seemingly tale more of a central role for this record, the voices still blend in to the intense sonic tapestry that the music weaves as if they are another instrument with which to create the dreamy atmospheres (check out "Moon Is Sharp" and "Vapor Trails" for example). Every one of the six compositions that make up AIA: Alien Observer further pulls the listener beneath the undulating waves of the music conjured by guitars and keyboards (and various and intermittent percussive elements, a la the bells in the beginning of "Mary, On The Wall") while the vocals drown listeners in a syrupy sweet but almost disaffected style as in "Alien Observer" where the vocals seem delivered as Harris is zoned out and staring at some unseen point completely oblivious to anything else going on at the time.
Getting the double whammy of two albums from Grouper at the same time has quickly ensured my immediate infatuation with the dense and gloriously hazy sounds that Liz Harris composes, and AIA: Alien Observer is most definitely the perfect companion or sister album to AIA: Dream Loss; but what I find most impressive with AIA: Alien Observer is that it is distinctly different in execution while still being cut from the same cloth as its sister with the possibility that it may be the slightly stronger of the two albums while being every beat as dream-like, and this matched with the uncanny ability of the record to absolutely engross your senses makes AIA: Alien Observer one hell of a fine release.
8.5 / 10
Though I’ve been familiar with the name Grouper for some time, perhaps it’s not entirely coincidental that the solo project from Portland, Oregon-based artist and musician Liz Harris has never ...
The Man Who Died in His Boat (released February 2013) is a collection of songs by Grouper, a.k.a. Liz Harris, one-woman ambient/noise/folk/dream-pop impresario of Portland, Oregon. Harris has been active since ...
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