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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 242 - 05/21/16

David Grubbs
Prismrose
Blue Chopsticks/Drag City

David Grubb's musical output for the last 20 years is plentiful and diverse, but for this listener at least Gastr Del Sol is still the first thing that pops into my head when I hear his name. So, it's with great pleasure I note that Prismrose's opening song, "How to Hear What's Less Than Meets the Ear", draws a line directly back into the history of that band of pioneering 90's rock experimentalists. There's that warm guitar tone that makes the angular shapes of the music go down like warm chocolate on a particulary cold winter day, and if that's not something you like to experience a recalibrating of the senses is probably in order. This song was originally written for the 75th birthday of the sadly recently departed Tony Conrad, and if I close my eyes I can hear the echoes from Conrad's legendary collobaration with Faust, not least because of the driving and clattering percussion provided by Eli Keszler.

Side A on the LP is rounded out with two short songs where the lines are drawn even further back into history. First we have "Cheery Eh", an arrangement of a piece by the 14th century composer Guillaume de Machaut, and then "Learned Astonomer" tackles a poem by Walt Whitman, via the author Rick Moody. This is also the only time Grubbs sings on the album.

Side B brings Grubbs and his guitar back to the present time. After two pieces of beautiful guitar mood explorations he ends this short and modest album with the upbeat "The Bonsai Waterfall", a triumphant little pop gem and one of the lovelist and catchiest songs he has ever commited to tape (or to a hard drive I guess, in these digital days).

David Grubbs recently wrote a book, Records Ruin the Landscape (Duke University Press), about the uneasy relationship between 60s modernist experimental music and records. Thankfully, by the evidence of this fine piece of recorded music, records are in no danger of ruining his own music.

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You may also want to check out our David Grubbs articles/reviews: A Guess at the Riddle, An Optimist Notes the Dusk, The Plain Where the Palace Stood.

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