Agitated Atmosphere: Grouper - A I A

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Grouper.

Deep within each of lays a universal truth. It is buried below anger, regret, sadness, happiness -- it drives us to behave as we do. We divide ourselves so neatly into genres; political affiliations, race, sex, religion. Yet his universal truth asks not of any of these actions, it only wants us to discover ourselves without the pressures of the world -- a task few will ever achieve. But the first time you catch the transcendental melodies from one of the two albums that constitute A I A, the world will melt away. All those roadblocks placed in front of our inner peace are destroyed by a sonic wave conjured by the magical hands of Liz Harris (Grouper).

The Portland native has been toiling in relative solitude for more than six years, emerging with icy compositions when the world needs them most. As chaos and division grow, Harris covers them in a snowy fluff. It is no different with Alien Observer and Dream Loss -- the two albums that are collectively known as A I A. In the three years since Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill won her praise from outlets high and low, Harris has continually honed the ethereal qualities that have won her a loyal following.

Listen to “Atone”:

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The sleepscapes that transport listeners from hectic lives to boundless meditation begin immediately as the needle drops on Alien Observer. The gentle strums of guitar, the light touches of Wurlitzer, and the whispered words of Harris speak to calm. Eyes close and the world goes away, replaced by those voices inside us that drown out the fear and replace it with ease. We are creatures meant to love and be loved and Harris recalls such primal but necessary actions. A I A speaks to us on levels we’ve ignored for far too long, continuing to do so is asking for the world to swallow us whole. With A I A, Harris offers us the reprieve we desire and does so with a lingering beauty that will leave its mark long after the needle rises.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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