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Julianna Barwick and Grouper play NYC's Guggenheim on 04.13

The Guggenheim has a unique history of pairing independent-minded musicians with touring exhibitions. From 2009’s ‘It Came from Brooklyn,’ to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle freakout, the results have been mixed, but the institution has always embraced visual/aural experimentation as few museums have. But with John Chamberlain’s work taking over the rotunda for the next couple months, the museum is practically begging for musical accompaniment. In his first show since his death late last year, Manhattan artist John Chamberlain will have his colossal structures dominate the museum until May 13 in the expansive collection, John Chamberlain: Choices.

His brand of three-dimensional abstraction re-assembled the detritus of American consumerism into a Frankenstein of metal and chrome. No matter the scale of these pieces, Chamberlain always worked in enormous proportions. And the same can be said of the four musicians chosen to perform among the artist’s assemblage over the next two months.

Beginning with Portland's Grouper and NYC's Julianna Barwick (pictured) playing together on Fri, April 13, the museum is matching soundtrack to exhibition with Divine Ricochet. The vastness of Liz Harris’s soundscapes, coupled with Barwick’s orchestrally looped vocal arrangements, could very well cause these sculptures to float into space if things get too otherworldly. But assuming gravity has it’s way, make sure to also check out Cold Cave’s lush synth pop later next month on April 27, followed by the hypnotic Zola Jesus, when she collaborates with composer JG Thirlwell on May 10.

John Chamberlain’s maxim was always: “It’s all in the fit.” So I’ll be looking forward to seeing (and hearing) what you get when you take a loop machine and wrap its sound around auto parts. - Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets)

Julianna Barwick, "Never Change" by asthmatickitty

Grouper - Alien Observer by felix-5


Grouper! Tonight at Mississippi Studios!

And if you're not feeling free shows at Burgerville, head to Mississippi Studios for Grouper. You can swim in the clouds of wonder in her ethereal and eerie heartstrung melodies. The sound that hangs between the sparse and present vocals of Liz Harris will weigh down on your like the whispers of autumn careening between the space between guitar strings. After re-releasing a handful of haunting records in 2010, Harris has been playing shows here and there, but not quite everywhere. Catch her while you can. Listen to her fabulous and recently re-pressed Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill here:

Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill by _type


Band of the Month Nominee Spotlight: Grouper

Grouper is Portland musician Liz Harris. Starting from humble means and a self-release in 2005, Harris has continued to build steam toward lofty heights of creativity and popularity. She now has four full-length albums, as well as a collaboration project with NYC-based group, Xiu Xiu.

I appreciate that Grouper strays away from the stereotypical 10-minute length ambient-dream tracks, and instead bends toward the three-five minute standard that the majority of modern songs in the world tend to curtail themselves at. Even without utilizing lengthy tracks, the heart of Harris' art wells from the pairing of haunting vocals gliding over the calm magic of her chord changes. What she does, she does well.

Grouper's latest release, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, received superlative critical reviews, and ranked high on several 2008 blog "end of year" lists, including, Gorilla vs Bear's 2nd best album pick of 2008. After giving the album a once-through-listen, I was impressed with how the mood and musical changes worked to keep the album interesting, while remaining very much the same with regard to style and rhythm tempo. You can stream the album on LaLa.

Harris is also involved, along with Honey Owens, with the vintage clothing shoppe Rad Summer located on Burnside (right in my hood, yo). Design firm Wieden and Kennedy have been releasing an awesome video series entitled, "Don't Move Here," which features music artists from the already robust, yet always growing music scene in Portland. Check out both these musicians (and business women) in the third episode of "Don't Move Here."

With keyboards, guitar and vocals, Grouper paints a string of songs that act as small landscapes for the listener to enjoy. Ambient dream-scapes and steady acoustic strumming steer the listener over an ocean of rolling swells and shrouding fog to arrive at something musically satisfying. Check it out, and then reach out and vote for the next Deli Band of the Month. Perhaps you will do so just a little more calmly than normal.

- Joel Sommer


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