Portland, Oregon based ambient master Liz Harris aka Grouper self-released this initially, and it disappeared so quick you couldn’t be blamed for not knowing of its existence. Luckily the Superior Viaduct subsidiary, W.25th have us covered reissuing it in all its glory. As Nivhek Harris takes here ambience further into delicate minimalism, where the stark and sheer tonality is all consuming.
Vinyl Double LP £36.49 W25-11
2LP on W.25TH.
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CD £12.99 W25-11CD
CD on W.25TH.
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We are eternally grateful to the good people at Superior Viaduct's sister label W.25TH for pressing up copies of this Nivhek record. If you don’t know, Nivhek is an alias of Liz Harris aka Grouper and ‘After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house’ initially appeared on her own private-press Yellow Electric label. It sold out before us drooling Grouper fans could get as much as a sniff. Not only are we grateful cuz we can now get our own grubby paws on a copy, but it’s essentially a public service they’re doing - bordering on God’s work ensuring wider distribution of a gorgeous record.
As soon as the needle hits the groove of Side A of ‘After its own death’ it’s instantly recognizable as Liz Harris - that spectral voice -- a hallmark of her output as Grouper, but it’s also distinctive as a different entity from Grouper - she’s moved away from the more straight up singer-songwriter structures of recent albums and into way more zoned territory with a weight that feels devotional. An analogue synthesizer bassline blossoms and hypnotizes while angelic vocals swirl into evaporating trails like a heavily opiated Enya. You don’t even need to decipher the lyrics - her voice is like another texture and just communicates emotions that have no need for any particular language - it’s just a feeling that hits you. Side B is more spacious with soft, minimal guitar and rain like static joined by delicate chimes. When her voice appears it’s like an ancient female statue inside a sacred holy building has come alive relaying a thousand tales without words.
‘Walking in a spiral towards the house’ begins not unlike some NYC minimalist composition but feels incredibly brittle - as fragile as butterfly wings. As the chimes fill the air you feel like you could reach out and try and catch one, only for it to disintegrate into fairy dust. Each chime seems to ascend, hover and float away up into the heights of some magnificent jewelled tower. There’s a lingering sadness, as though the jewels in the tower represented broken dreams.
Liz Harris’s records are always soul-stirring, deeply affecting, total gems. This one is no different. It’s a stylistic shift - hence the new alias, but still as beautiful as anything in the Grouper discography and another one to treasure. Lush.
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