Issue December 15, 2009

Hybrid Song Box 4

David Grubbs
BLUE CHOPSTICKS

Louisville native and former Squirrel Bait guitarist David Grubbs has spent the last 20-plus years packing his avant-garde resume with ever-deepening visions for the electric guitar. Released on Grubbs’s own label, Hybrid Song Box 4 is a soundtrack for an installation art project by British artist Angela Bulloch that exhibited last year at the Guggenheim in New York City (where Grubbs now lives and works). The 26-minute piece comprises a distinctive guitar solo, complete with distortion and feedback, presented in three movements laced together with extended feedback breaks. This is a piece best consumed straight — no distractions, except possibly a rainy day beating against your windows. Contemplative and dark, Song Box’s greatest strength is the precision of Grubbs’s composition and deceptively deep melodies. It sticks to the mind in unexpected ways.