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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grouper - A I A: B+

When you’ve been listening to and evaluating music nonstop for a full month -- your ears are constantly ringing, massive headaches are starting to set in and you’re seriously considering your life choices -- an album like A I A can make you want to throw your laptop out a window. It’s two. whole. discs. worth of ambient music. Throughout those two discs you will find:

1. 1. 1. Tracks that get close to and often exceed the eight minute mark

2. 2. 2. Grouper frontwoman Liz Harris strumming a guitar and singing just far enough away that her words cannot be comprehended

3. 3. 3. The standard bleep-bloop instrumentation from the ambient/drone tool kit

4. 4.4. Lots and lots of S P A C E

But damnit if it doesn’t sound beautiful most of the time. Despite A I A's length and lack of activity for long periods of time, many of its anonymous songs will strangely touch your heart. The album does this best on “Vapor Trails”, a nine-minute track that’s melancholic organ could make a Tyler Perry movie sound like an emotional masterstroke. You could make the argument that A I A is just a collection of “Vapor Trails”, but I would say that Harris does what she does so well that, in her case, I can accept a lack of deviation in favor of consistency. Luckily, she hardly disappoints.


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