Words SAGE CASWELL
There are few albums I’ve come across that paint the kind of picture Grouper’s A I A (Kranky / Yellow Electric, 2012) does. Furthermore, there are few creative contemporaries that put forth the kind of honest, raw emotion found within her offerings (audio or otherwise). To this day, I’ve yet to find another set of songs that completely transform me over the course of a full listen.
The first time I saw Liz Harris perform live, she was sitting on the floor of the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Cemetery with no visual accompaniment during her performance. I’m happy to acknowledge the irony in that almost all instances where I’ve spent time with this album, I too am sitting on the floor, with nothing else happening around me.
I think about a lake that’s been untouched, and how that room felt as delicate as a thin piece of glass. I’ve always wondered what it’d feel like to be a ghost, and this experience brought some type of loose clarity to my musing.
I’m consistently brought to tears by how heavy and relatable this collection of music is, from the busted piano at the beginning of the first chapter, Dream Loss (First Heart Tone), to the tear-your-heart-out-of-your-body brilliance of “She Loves Me That Way.” At the end of Second Heart Tone—the record was initially released as two 12-inches and is split into two parts—I’m taken to a place I didn’t know existed. My initial reaction is to call this place “heaven”, but it actually feels like a real place. I wonder about the Alien Observer, and if this may be a story of something very far away from us.
A I A ticks every box there is to tick, every emotion spoken to in some way or another. It’s very difficult to put words down that accurately translate how powerful this album is, and I’ll be damned if I use any of the common buzzwords to describe how special Grouper’s music is to me.
Sage Caswell’s latest album, ‘Evil Twin’, is now available via 2MR. Stream it in full below, along with selections from the LA producer’s back catalogue.