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It's OK to be on your own. It's OK to be sad. Grouper is right there with you. Liz Harris' tenth studio album recalls a period of her life spent in Portugal during a 2011 residency at Galeria Zé dos Bois. During this time Harris recorded Ruins on a portable 4-track, absorbing the sounds of nature and the stillness of solitude. When she wasn't recording, Harris spent her time hiking several miles to the beach, a journey that would lead her through the ruins of old estates and coastal villages. Ruins is suspended in this time, evoking those daily promenades, and lonely evenings in a foreign landscape.

Album opener 'Made Of Metal' represents a mysterious and exotic transportation into the wilderness. The rustling of foliage, the chattering of insects, the sighing coastal breeze, but the blackness of night envelopes the track as a tribal drum beats in the distance; the heart of darkness beckons. Out of the jungle's humidity, a 'Clearing' forms and Harris props up Ruins on a crumbling foundation of plaintive piano chords and forlorn, disembodied vocals.

'Call Across Rooms' is, according to Harris, a letter willing herself to increase her capacity to love: "I have a present to give you / when we finally figure it out" Harris sings in a desperately wounded vocal take. Ruins doesn't just represent the crumbling Portuguese town in which the album was recorded, but also the strained and shattered relationships of Harris' past; voyeuristic spectres lurk in the shadows of every song.

Grouper always creates music that demands a keen and patient ear. If you make the mistake of not lending the music your full attention the songs will disintegrate and thicken the atmosphere. Grouper tenderly and quietly beckons you nearer, allowing the sadness to seep into your bloodstream. Lyrics are distant and difficult to decipher, however it isn't hard to comprehend the emotional weight of each track, even on cycloidal piano instrumentals such as 'Labyrinth', the melancholia runs thick.

The final track recorded in Portugal, and the penultimate track on Ruins, 'Holding' reveals the very structure of human biology and emotional spirit breaking apart. Harris describes bodies that disintegrate, unfold, and dissolve in water. 'Holding' finishes with a recording of a thunder storm which extends into the 11-minute analogue drone finale 'Made of Air'. It's hard not to imagine the rain washing away the fragile remains of a broken humanity; a landscape finally cleansed of raw emotional and physical ruins.

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