David Grubbs, Ken Camden, Jason Ajemian | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

David Grubbs, Ken Camden, Jason Ajemian Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., April 28, 9 p.m. 2011

In virtually all of his post-Bastro output, David Grubbs has been meticulous about proportion in his music, diverging from familiar rock patterns not just in the way tunes of different shapes and sizes fit together on an album but also in how single tunes progress from section to section. His fantastic 2010 collaboration with percussionist Andrea Belfi and electric guitarist Stefano Pilia, Onrushing Cloud (Blue Chopsticks), consists of five gorgeously constructed pieces that progress via changes in instrumental color, density, and tone, among other qualities; though this shifting topography of sound distinguishes the songs from one another, taken together they form a beautifully coherent whole. Grubbs sings on just one track; the trio focuses on subtle instrumental interaction, carefully evoked moods, and shimmering textures. Even when he makes a song-oriented collection like 2008's An Optimist Notes the Dusk (Drag City), Grubbs takes a similar approach. On the opener, "Gethsemani Night"—a tune about Thomas Merton's transition to monkhood at the Kentucky abbey referred to in the title—his vocal melodies alternate with biting instrumental passages that shift between his sparse but resonant electric guitar and Nate Wooley's parched, sibilant trumpet. On "An Optimist Declines" Grubbs clips and elongates specific phrases to emphasize meaning, hurriedly singing "shortening course of a life" and then leisurely crooning "lengthening course of a day." Sometimes songs are purely instrumental for several repetitions through a section, but even then drummer Michael Evans prevents stasis from setting in by changing up the density and intensity. A onetime Chicagoan, Grubbs rarely returns to town, and this is the first time he'll play songs from An Optimist here (along with some tunes from a forthcoming collection). —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

Add a review


Select a star to rate.