An important figure in the post-rock and experimental music communities, guitarist, pianist, and vocalist David Grubbs made an especially strong impact on the indie music scene during his ten-year residence in Chicago. Originally hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Grubbs was a member of Bastro and Squirrel Bait before teaming up with Jim O’Rourke in Gastr del Sol. That band issued a number of critically acclaimed albums in the mid-’90s before O’Rourke split to pursue solo projects and focus on his Drag City boutique label Moikai.
All Music Guide
David Grubbs (Bastro / Bitch Magnet / Gastr Del Sol) plays tonight at the Goethe Institute along with Jan St Werner (Mouse on Mars) and Ernst Karel. Dive into a guest mix that he recently put together for IHN!
In place of traditional tracklist, we got some wonderful liner notes that Mr. Grubbs compiled to go along with the mix.
For a long time I had gravitated toward and orbited around Carlo Gesualdo’s wildly chromatic vocal music from four centuries ago, but I had never had the experience of playing it until Noël Akchoté invited me to take part in a quintet of guitarists performing Gesualdo’s Fifth Book of Madrigals. This is a home recording of Noël playing all five parts of “Correte, amanti, a prova.” Love love it—could listen to Noël’s versions of Gesualdo all day (and believe me I have).
I recently came across Joseph Racaille’s 6 Petites Chansons EP, from which “Nous sommes des animaux” is the first track, after spending time in the Rec Rec shop in Zürich, which got me thinking about a whole sphere of related artists (from After Dinner to ZNR). Previously I knew of Racaille as one half of ZNR—strong recommendation for their recently reissued Barricade LP. Tori Kudo’s cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ ’Bout You” (with assistance from Phil Elvrum) is something I’ve spun for nearly every guest in my apartment in the year 2016.
Mitamurakandadan? is a brass band from Kobe, Japan on the Compare Notes label, and my understanding is that they’re more or less the house band at the Guggenheim House in Shioya, just outside Kobe, where I played an intensely enjoyable show earlier this year. This is a version of “Qui nem jiló,” perhaps best known as performed by Gilberto Gil.
“Questions of Middle Distance” is a solo burner on distorted harp from Rhodri Davies; “Zokunarumono” is a solo guitar and voice track by Hisato Higuchi with a watery, submerged ambience all its own; and this interlude of three solo pieces is rounded out by Joe McPhee’s “Variations on a Blue Line” from an album recently reissued by the record label of the Chicago art gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey. Jim O’Rourke and I went through a period of immersing ourselves in Ennio Morricone soundtracks when we played together in Gastr del Sol.
Somehow Maddalena eluded me, but it’s a great one, and Andrea Belfi did me the service of playing it for me. I will forever associate this with a train trip the morning after a gig in Naples, just soaking it all in. I’m grateful for Ian Nagoski’s Canary Records (visit them at http://canary-records.bandcamp.com), which has done everyone who’s paying attention an enormous favor in its archival releases from a wide range of musical traditions;
Marika Papagika (here singing “Olympos Ke Kisavos”) is one of many personal favorites. Circle X were total art punk heroes from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and “Current” is from their 1983 album Prehistory. “Luminous Vuori” finds Athens’ Mohammad (featuring my friend and collaborator Nikos Veliotis) in an unusually tuneful mode, and to my ears seems a good preamble to that most exuberant of send-offs, Van Dyke Parks’ version of the hymn “Farther Along.”