Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some Thoughts On The New David Grubbs Record

David Grubbs is dropping a new record on April 16. It's called The Plain Where The Palace Stood and it's on Drag City.

After working with Gastr del Sol and Squirrel Bait (among others), David went his own way. This, his 6th record on that label, is a must listen for his followers.

And it's a must listen for fans of challenging post-rock, or those who appreciate tunes that blur the lines between genres.

Additionally, it's a must listen because on this record David's working with Stefanio Pilia (guitar) and Andrea Belfi (drums) from that magnificent Mike Watt-associated record that I reviewed a few months ago.

The record veers from introspective vocal cuts (the wonderfully titled "I Started To Live When My Barber Died") to ambient noise ("Abracadabrant").

There's a sort of seriousness here that recalls The Durutti Column but Grubbs is aiming -- I think -- for a more visceral sort of music. When his vocals drop away, the guitar lines shimmer and slash -- Fripp meets Neil Young.

It's American music, a nod to free jazz from the past as well as a reminder of earlier noise rock pioneers on the U.S. East Coast.

Still, as the subtle "Ornamental Hermit" recalls for us, the music is rough folk. A hint of Americana colliding with quiet thrash.

"First Salutation" builds on sinister percussion elements -- ritual music for math rockers.

"Super-Adequate" is all Thurston Moore circa 1988, while "The Hesitation Waltz" is a vocal number of exquisite stillness -- the kind of music a lot of people tried to make at one time, when there was more of a market for this sort of music.

"A View of the Mesa" is Neil Young trying his hand at stoner rock -- like an old QOTSA riff pulled apart and slowed down.

As an album, this is a fairly consistent record. Grubbs has managed to get music that usually rests on the edges of mainstream music to fit into concise packages here. The record admirably melds the avant garde with the alt-rock and the fury in Grubbs' playing is controlled and focused.

The Plain Where The Palace Stood drops on April 16 from Drag City.

Follow David Grubbs there or on his official Tumblr page: