Grouper, Benoit Pioulard, Christopher Bissonnette, Justin Walter | Constellation | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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Grouper

Grouper

Grouper, Benoit Pioulard, Christopher Bissonnette, Justin Walter Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Dec. 13, 8:30 p.m. 2013
Price: $18
Portland singer and multi-instrumentalist Liz Harris, who performs as Grouper, opens the recent The Man Who Died in His Boat (Kranky) with two minutes of amorphous, undulating ambience called “6,” its buried vocals and feedback swimming in reverb. Its underwater murkiness feels like waking up after a long night’s sleep, still foggy in the head—except that in Grouper’s music the haze doesn’t clear up. Harris’s rudimentary acoustic strumming and narcotic, melodic vocals are comparably lucid and clear on the next song, “Vital,” but they’re likewise bathed in milky reverb, droning hiss, and atmospheric sounds (rain and thunder?). The 11 tracks on The Man Who Died in His Boat were cut at the same time Harris recorded 2008’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (recently reissued by Kranky), arguably the most direct, tuneful album in Grouper’s eight-year discography, and it seems like a yin to Dragging’s yang. The diffuse atmosphere is as crucial as the songs themselves, which are so simple they’d feel almost formulaic without all the effects. This concert is part of Kranky Records20th-anniversary celebration, which begins Thu 12/12 at the Empty Bottle, continues Fri 12/13 and Sat 12/14 at Constellation, and ends Sun 12/15 at Lincoln Hall. —Peter Margasak Benoit Pioulard, Christopher Bissonnette, and Justin Walter open.

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