As transitory and impermanent as the headlines of October felt (venue closes, band breaks up, outbreak reduced to a scare), the albums released provided permanence as bodies of work that understand the significance of a solid foundation. We can feel like everything has gone to shit and this is a powerless existence, and then we can feel music curated to inflict sound on the body like Margaret Chardiet’s latest Pharmakon record. We can listen to Caribou, Ex Hex, and Harriet Brown to understand lineage and influence and how to hear a standard anew. We understand that the greatness is not achieved out the gate, but earned over time by honing to consistency when we play Run The Jewels and Roomrunner.
October had nothing to do with the new kids shredding the system and making endearing mistakes into exciting new avenues. October was about second leases, third side projects, and tenth albums.
The Best Album of October 2014:
Grouper, the creation of Liz Harris’ breathy voice and elegiac piano, suggests something of a divergent pathway toward the question of access and boundaries on her tenth full-length LP, the achingly beautiful, Ruins. Ultimately, like so much inscrutable and mesmerizing art, we both do and don’t ever get her.
Harris has thrown open her windows and her past on Ruins, singing her listener into sleep on “Holding”, the album’s second-longest and best track. The intimacy is undeniable whether we ever get any closer to grasping Ruins or Harris, or merely just appear to foreshorten the distance to ourselves.