Grouper Ė The Man Who Died in his Boat (CD Kranky)

The Man Who Died in his BoatÖ Groupers 2nd album creeps up on you unawares. Itís soft lilting Cocteau Twins-ish songs and atmosphere drift effortlessly past you the first few times you listen leaving barely a mark on your unconscious. Itís not until a few more listens in that it really starts to creep into your pores and leaves a lasting impression thatís hard to shake off or forget.

Thatís not a bad achievement in this day and age of five minute attention spans and while you could worry about those who are therefore going to miss out this rather fascinating album it wouldnít work as well if the songs were more immediate and more instantly gratifying.

The main structure of the songs revolves around acoustic guitar and voice the lyrics suitable enigmatic and hard to fathom out and everything heavily treated with reverb. Thereís a couple of shorter more experimental type pieces on the album that perhaps add  that necessary bit of something different to it. One of them thatís put in the middle of the album seems to consist of delay treated single piano notes and whilst a nice way to put a break in doesnít really seem to me to have a purpose except to act as a short of interval, almost a digital equivalent of the gap whilst you turn over a piece of vinyl. DB.