Words have always been an important part of David Grubbs's music, but when he played in Gastr del Sol with Jim O'Rourke his allusive lyrics were often eclipsed by the complex arrangements and dazzling spectrum of instrumental colors. On his recent A Guess at the Riddle (Drag City) he clears away all the distractions and gives his cerebral stories and ruminations their most accessible settings to date. "A Cold Apple" imagines a detailed backstory for an old black-and-white photo of a woman holding a half-eaten apple; "One Way out of the Maze" considers an array of methods for dealing with an unnamed dilemma, but rather than take action the narrator obsessively rewatches the Robert Bresson film A Man Escaped ("I watch it when I can't otherwise do"). A few of the songs were cowritten with novelist Rick Moody, who also contributed to Grubbs's last album, Rickets & Scurvy. The music is clean, direct pop-rock--"One Way out of the Maze" could almost be an unreleased Schramms tune. Mice Parade multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce plays drums with a crisp attack reminiscent of Grubbs's old running buddy John McEntire. Hannah Marcus adds some sweet vocal harmonies, and Steve Roden and the electronic duo Matmos help wind the album down with rich, hypnotic soundscapes in the closing tracks. For this show Grubbs is joined by cellist Nikos Veliotis, who also plays on the album. Pegasvs opens; Xiu Xiu headlines. $10, all ages. Saturday, July 24, 10 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700 or 800-594-8499.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Magda Blaszczuk.