Gastr del Sol | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Gastr del Sol 

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David Grubbs, who got his start with influential Louisville postpunk kids Squirrelbait, created Gastr del Sol out of the dissolution of his other former band, Bastro. On 1993's The Serpentine Similar (Teen Beat), which offered an intriguing study of static rock structures and near-drones, the band consisted of Grubbs and former Bastro bassist Bundy K. Brown, augmented by a handful of guests. Since then, Brown has left and Grubbs has been joined by the prolific experimental guitarist and composer Jim O'Rourke--and the music of Gastr del Sol has gone from interesting to uncategorizable. The band's release this past spring, Crookt, Crackt, or Fly (Drag City), is a remarkable achievement. The guitars of Grubbs and O'Rourke manage to confuse and destroy most points of reference, tangling in dense thickets of sound and reveling in ever-shifting textures, tensions, and tones. These sonic explorations are couched between sections of intricate melodic and harmonic patterns, but the structure isn't traditional the way, say, a bebop tune's is: head (or melody), followed by solos, followed by a restatement of the head. Rather, scale is used as the guiding dynamic element. Lengthy pieces like "Work From Smoke" and "The Wrong Soundings" consist of numerous inextricably linked segments that contrast and play off one another; the band's compositions are elaborate outlines that leave the body open to interpretation. Gastr del Sol's handful of performances thus far have all been radically different, so there's no predicting what this one will be like. Opening are Plush, a recently revived trio playing gorgeous, almost symphonic pop tunes, and Smog. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.

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