Gastr del Sol Biography

Gastr Del Sol is the creation of David Grubbs (Louisville, Kentucky, USA; guitar, piano, vocals), a former member of the Louisville-based hardcore outfit Squirrel Bait. When that influential band split-up in 1987, Grubbs formed Bastro and recorded three albums for Homestead Records that gradually moved away from the noise-rock squall of Squirrel Bait towards avant garde experimentalism, although he continued to satisfy his rock instincts as guitarist for Bitch Magnet. Grubbs first used the Gastr Del Sol moniker for 1991’s The Serpentine Similar EP, recorded with bass player Bundy K. Brown and drummer John McEntire from Bastro. Eschewing conventional rock melody altogether, the EP’s exploratory tone set the tone for future Gastr Del Sol releases. The ‘20 Songs Less’ single introduced an important new member to the line-up, guitarist/composer/tape manipulator and avant garde hero, Jim O’Rourke (b. 18 January 1969, Chicago, Illinois, USA). Brown left before the esoteric Crookt, Crackt, Or Fly, recorded like all subsequent Gastr Del Sol releases, by Grubbs and O’Rourke and a loose collective of guest musicians. Their EPs and albums focused on the interplay of Grubbs and O’Rourke’s acoustic guitars, reminiscent at times of the plangent tones of John Fahey, although there was the occasional rock workout in a nod to Grubbs’ hardcore past. O’Rourke’s subtle tape work and Grubbs’ impressionistic lyrics were vital elements in the creation of unconventional tonal patterns.

Moving further away from the mainstream, 1995’s The Harp Factory On Lake Street EP, released on the Table Of The Elements label, comprised a single extended piece of music for a small orchestra. Grubbs released his abstract solo work, Banana Cabbage, Potato Lettuce, Onion Orange, on the same label. Upgrade & Afterlife saw Grubbs and O’Rourke making a few concessions to the mainstream in terms of melody and structure, and emerging with their most accessible and likeable album. O’Rourke left in July 1997, although he featured alongside fellow electronic genius Markus Popp on Camoufleur, a deceptively complex release that radiated a Zen-like aura of calming restraint. With Gastr Del Sol seemingly laid to rest, Grubbs has subsequently concentrated on solo work and his continued involvement with the Red Crayola.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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