Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat


Some albums must be heard on a good system in order to capture minor nuances in sound. The Man Who Died In His Boat, the latest release from Liz Harris better known as Grouper, demands a proper listen. Harris' ethereal voice, combined with simple guitar strums and multi-layered drones envelops the listener like a dense fog.

Over the past couple of years Grouper has received a lot of accolades for her solo work, and her recent side project with Tiny Vipers called Mirroring. But to date the album she is most applauded for is her 2008 release Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. For fans pining for more music from that period of Harris' career, her new album is a collection of unreleased songs recorded alongside that album.

While Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill is a fantastic album because of its flaws, and its lack of continuity, the songs on The Man Who Died In His Boat seem to perfect meld together. This comes as a surprise considering that collections of unreleased material can often sound disjointed and unfinished, because that's exactly what they are – unfinished songs, sporadically put together.

With The Man Who Died In His Boat Harris has mastered the genre of dream folk. From the start of the album the listener floats between songs and arrives at the end without the slightest inclination that the end was near. While there are songs that stand out, such as the title track, or “Cover the Long Way”, the album is so perfectly compiled that it demands to be experienced in its entirety.

One song on the album that slightly stands out among the rest is “Living Room.” On most of the tracks Harris' voice is used to supplement the music, but on “Living Room” the lyrics are easily distinguished and are not muffled by layers of guitar and drone. It is the only lyrically-driven song on the album, and is the closest to sounding like a traditional folk song. 
The new album draws inspiration from Harris' childhood memory of investigating the wreckage of a sailboat. Inside were remnants of the owner's presence, but with no sign that the boat crashed or capsized, the missing owner was a mystery. Harris concluded that the owner “simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home.”

Like the abandoned boat floating on the open sea, Grouper's newest release will have you floating on a daydream.