Grouper - Ruins
Critic Score
Based on 19 reviews
2014 Ratings: #41 / 956
Year End Rank: #25
User Score
Based on 327 ratings
2014 Ratings: #26
Liked by 6 people
October 31, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
Kranky / Label
Suggest a Genre
Abuse of this feature may prevent future contributions from your account.
Sign In to rate and review


Tiny Mix Tapes

Harris’s analog mastery has created an inhabitable space of intense clarity, so that the silences become suggestions of the room she made them in, a sustained window. The affective work of Ruins is to translate with heartfelt precision the time and space of its recording, to collapse the world of its making and its consumption.

The Line of Best Fit

It stands as both a fascinating new direction, and a heartbreaking memoir of a period now sinking into the past.

FACT Magazine

Ruins is one of her finest works, full to the brim with emotion in spite of the aching space at its heart.

‘Ruins’ is probably the quietest record you’ll hear in 2014. Just Harris and a piano for the most part, it’s a stripped-bare set that unfolds slowly and almost shocks you out of your seat when an unforeseen accoutrement like the pinging of a microwave on instrumental piece ‘Labyrinth’ pierces the elegiac elegance.

What we're left with is achingly beautiful and ... almost unnervingly direct.

The 405

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


Whereas Harris has often used drones, fuzz, white noise and feedback to overwhelm the humanity her music, here she is exposed and unadorned.

Drowned in Sound

The memories that Harris explores on Ruins are to us what those physical Portuguese ruins were to her - decontextualised mysteries, distant waves whose ripple hints at some past trauma we’re locked out of.


At once soothing and devastating, Ruins suggests Harris' power and versatility are only growing.

'Ruins' becomes an unexpected gem: that rare album that reels you in without even trying.
Consequence of Sound

Ruins is what its name suggests: spacious, haunting, and delicate.

While the documentary vibe of the album is entirely engaging, immediately plunging the listener into a very real physical context, this is an album that requires a serious effort to unpack.
It’s individual music that’s overt about putting us in a thoughtful mindset.
Pretty Much Amazing
Despite consisting of well-crafted, thoughtful songs, the emotional gutpunch that is to be expected from a Grouper album never quite arrives over multiple listens.
NOW Magazine
The quietness is also the project's greatest weakness. At times, it leaves the album feeling incomplete or intrusive, as if we're peeking in mid-thought.
Where I grew up there was a pond about half a mile from my house. There was a little dock sitting over the water, just tall enough that your feet didn't touch the water. I would sometimes walk there and sit at night, not doing much of anything.

This album somehow transports you to one of the calmest places you've ever been. Delicate and direct, Grouper delivers a touching release that utilizes sound just as much as it does its instrumentation and vocalization. The hushed crackle behind the ... read more
Her mystic, delicate tunes spread and creep just to take your breath and let you suffocate in your reflection.
Naked. deadly beauty.
☆☆☆☆ — sublime
I love the piano, and I like that you can hear Liz a little more. I also appreciate the interest in negative space; the piano does a great job of echoing when nothing else is happening. I wish the entire album was 'Made of Air' as I love the cloudy space produced by the echoing drones. Another solid record, but I hope that she can utilize the piano and guitar together in a more engaging way.
Interesting record that finds its beauty in the shapes of small, minimalist and emotive pieces of music that perfectly fit together like little gems in an elegant necklace. Liz Harris shows all her songwriting and ambience crafting talent in this great effort, this time focusing more on piano compositions then landscape textures of field recording, but definitely bringing emotions to the skin.
Purchasing Ruins from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Track List

  1. Made of Metal 
  2. Clearing 
  3. Call Across Rooms 
  4. Labyrinth 
  5. Lighthouse 
  6. Holofernes 
  7. Holding 
  8. Made of Air
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.

Added on: August 14, 2014