Grouper, the solo project of Portland resident Liz Harris, live is an interesting concept. Half singer-songwriter, half drone/shoegaze; the sound is based purely on atmosphere, beauty and creating landscapes. Because of this, I can imagine that if you caught Grouper in the wrong venue then it could be a disaster. Thankfully, the Brudenell Social Club is not one of these venues. An intimate venue with fantastic acoustics, it felt like the perfect venue for Grouper.
Harris played by herself in front of a backdrop of the glimmers of light that appear on the covers to her two albums released this year, A I A: Dream Loss and A I A: Alien Observer. This was a good indication to what the setlist would be like, with just about everything coming from these albums. This is certainly not a complaint though, the setlist was a fantastic choice of songs, especially a breathtaking set closer; an instrumental version of A I A highlight She Loves Me That Way. The set only consisted of five or six songs but this was more than made up for with the sheer jawdropping beauty that came from the stage over that fifty or so minutes.
Liz Harris was very much in control throughout the set, with every sound coming from her guitar or the electronics in front of her sounding like they were precisely where and how they should be. Her stage presence is bizarre, with no words said to the crowd and an incredibly mix, but strangely captivating. The sound; unbelievably dreamy and mesmerizing.
Grouper was backed by some fantastic support. The Haxan Cloak was almost ruined by people talking throughout his quiet set but put on a fantastic show. Sounding not dissimilar to Tim Hecker, he played in front of a backdrop of an occult video that created a fantastic atmosphere. Neil Campbell and Mick Flower were impressive, if not as impressive, sounding like a guitar and violin based Emeralds. A fantastic night of atmospheric soundscapes.