Something is missing in Grid Of Points. Grouper’s eleventh album is at once stark and sublime, her cold lips and fogged-up, sparse lyrics on the verge of turning blue. Her songs arrive and then fade in an instant, sometimes cut short unexpectedly and dramatically, as if exposed to the cold light of mortality and the sudden ending of things. Liz Harris describes these songs as ‘small texts hanging in space’, and their brevity only increases the beauty of the music.
After recording Ruins, Harris found herself creating bare-bones music, stripping everything away and uniting a skeletal piano with her soft, flowering harmonies. Her vocals are as soft as ever: beautiful, fleeting songs sung in a perfect key, permeating the space for only a brief amount of time before dropping away into nothingness. Silence is an important and overlooked aspect in music, and it’s woven into these cool, breeze-blown songs, becoming a part of their very fabric, their poetic clothing, with voice and piano unclothing a set of cool emotions.
“I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever. Though brief, it is complete. The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.”
Her prolonged periods of silence echo in the still chambers of the music, giving space and life in equal measure. In spite of departure-feelings, melancholia isn’t a part of the record, but a vacancy sign hangs in and around the suspended space. The train station at eleven pm, the rain falling in an abandoned playground – these places should be occupied, but they’re not. And the same is true of music. Things should be here…but they’re not. Grouper isolates and inks in a bold font the absence of presence, embracing the inevitabilities of mortality. And without that familiarity, that comforting point of contact with other beings, Grid Of Points drifts in the ether, losing itself in its cold, lonesome song.
The silence is crushing, and louder than an amp’s eleven. Her vocals drift in reverb-abbeys, echoing past tall pillars of stone until they’re swallowed by the waiting, yawning silence. As the swaying vocals naturally fade away, the silence represents death. And it is an ending: the short-life vocals flutter for the briefest time, making their presence all the more beautiful. Grid Of Points hovers in misty zones of indeterminate temperature, the vocals strung together like a chain of hands in the gloom of dusk, its light extracted and lost to the growing threat of radio silence.