Saturday, October 16, 2010

Video: Liz Harris (aka Grouper) and Ilyas Ahmed live @ Aquarius Records, SF 09/05/2010

A match made in heaven! These two first collaborated on the final track of Ahmed's "Goner" released last year on Root Strata (performed here in the third video). The CD was my pick for album of the year. Harris and Ahmed seem to be the male/female counterpart of one another in a lot of ways. Both like their reverb, both like a slow burning, immensely distant yet somehow simultaneously intimate sound formed from deep layers of processed instruments, and both use vocals less as vocals and more as another layer of sound, often manipulated to the point where words and syllables are lost in a sort of ghostly haze. They both do other stuff as well: Ahmed's earlier work often consisted of long form solo guitar improvisations while the newest Grouper album, "Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill," had some genuine songs with lyrics and everything. Still, "Exit Twilight," the closing track of "Goner," was a revelation of sorts. After around 45 minutes of Ahmed's ramshackle rock and roll and muffled vocals, Harris' voice feels all the more poignant and beautiful emerging out of nowhere in the album's closing minutes. After hearing that, I've been longing for a real collaboration between the two ever since. This series of videos will have to hold me over until the (I hope) inevitable album. Recorded on September 5th, 2010 in the legendary Aquarius Records in San Francisco, this 4 song set is not to be missed.

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