GROUPER - DRAGGING A DEAD DEER UP A HILL

GROUPER - DRAGGING A DEAD DEER UP A HILL

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Released: 05/05/23

Somehow I missed that Grouper’s 2008 god-tier LP Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill was reissued back in May of last year. I was, as is my annual tradition, on a sojourn to Gstaad for some much needed R ’n’ R, for no one does sound baths and mud treatments like the Swiss – and no one knows how to knead out the stress better than my masseur Leandro (he truly has magic hands); but nevertheless, it’s sloppy on my part. 

Is Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill my favourite album by Grouper – AKA Oregon native Liz Harris – ? Certainly. But more than that, it’s one of my all-time favourites, period – a record that, like Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, I return to again and again, and in which, even after 16 years of repeat listening, I’m still finding surprises. At once intensely personal and utterly alien sounding, as if beamed in from the astral plane, the album is essentially comprised of three modes: sublime left-field guitar pop (‘Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping’; Fishing Bird (Empty Gutted in the Evening Breeze)’, apparitional avant-folk (‘Stuck’; ’Invisible’) and achingly lovely experimental-ambient vocal compositions (‘I’m Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill’; ‘Wind and Snow’) – the through-line being the analogue warm wash of the Roland Space Echo, through which Harris feeds all vocals, the looped environmental recordings, and a fair amount of the guitars, giving the overall impression of one continuous and haunting tidal cycle.