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Raum: Daughter

Liz Harris and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma return with a beautiful tribute.

Liz Harris delivered one of the albums of 2021 with her latest Grouper album, Shade. A stunning multi-faceted journey which covered a phenomenal amount of ground across the experimental music landscape.

Last week, alongside drone veteran, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Harris announced their surprise second album as Raum, Daughter.

The duo’s latest offering is a tribute to their late friend, filmmaker Paul Clipson, who passed away in 2018. In their own words, “A requiem, a lullaby, goodbye.”

The ideas of Daughter were constructed two years prior to Clipson’s passing; a series of field recordings and sonic sketches from the vaults. The end result is a deep-listening exercise that guides us through the dream-state tunnel filled with blinding white light.

Grouper: Shade – “a fascinating collection of songs”

Throughout Daughter we are presented with subtle juxtapositions in both sound and concept. Atmospheric drones against the muffled din of industrial machinery (Walk Together); birds chirping against a chopper in the distance (Daughter); the background resonance of a lighthouse interrupted by sea shells being crushed under foot (Revolving Door Field). It’s the idea of peace constantly threatened by destruction. All masked in a heavy lo-fi blanket of sound, there should be sense of claustrophobia to these recordings, but there’s not. Anything but, in fact.   

There’s an elegiac quality to Daughter; unsurprising considering the circumstances surrounding its release. On the aforementioned Revolving Door Field, the chiming sounds evoke the same kind of fantasy-like imagery crystallised by the likes of Julianna Barwick. Here Harris and Cantu-Ledesma create similar vivid snapshots that transport the listener to a different world. Their own world.

The same can be said of Sunlight Crying – a composition that ripples with rich emotive soundscapes with riffs that chime all the way to the church ceiling. Lullaby goes beyond such places of worship, reaching for the sky and just about getting there.

On closing piece, Passage, the end of the tunnel is met, the white light slowly cloaked with different shades and tones. Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, Passage is filled with ghostly synths and rusted keys with a minimalism that slowly circles back on itself.

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As one composition bleeds into the next, Daughter feels more like an immersive live experience in solitude. It’s a meticulous, well crafted sequence that Harris and Cantu-Ledesma have produced.

Call it what you want, but Daughter is a post-soundtrack collage of mournful, reflective sounds. Harris has always explored great emotional depth with Grouper. Alongside Cantu-Ledesma as Raum, they have created something cathartic and removed from any of their previous works.

Daughter is out now via Yellowelectric. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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