Bastro


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Diablo Guapo (1989), 6.5/10
Sing The Troubled Beast, 5.5/10
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David Grubbs, chitarrista dei Bitch Magnet, inauguro` i Bastro subito dopo lo scioglimento degli Squirrel Bait: con una drum-machine e il bassista di quella formazione, Clark Johnson, nel 1988 Grubbs registro` l'EP Rode Hard And Put Up Wet (Homestead).

L'anno successivo usci` il primo album, Diablo Guapo (1989), che si ispira all'hardcore rumoristico di Chicago (Big Black), ma si consuma in una febbre strumentale di natura nevrotica invece che psicotica o frustrata. A dispetto del fatto che all'inizio Grubbs pensasse di poterne fare a meno, il batterista John McEntire (ex My Dad Is Dead) e` l'elemento chiave di questo sound: il galoppo sgraziato di Tallow Waters, il concitato rullo di Filthy Five Filthy Ten, i clangori assordanti di Guapo, sempre accompagnati da tornado di dissonanze.
Soltanto il thrash a rotta di collo Flesh-Colored House beneficia di riff e melodia tali da far passare la ritmica in secondo piano. Reso omaggio a funk e jazz in due novelty punk come Engaging The Reverend e Hoosier Logic, Grubbs puo` competere tanto con gli Universal Congress quanto con i fIREHOSE, senza dimenticare che le sue origini (Kentucky) lo legittimano anche nel "cowpunk". E non stupisce che alla fine uno dei brani migliori (se non il migliore) sia lo strumentale Short-Haired Robot, con le sue metronomie marziali.

Sing The Troubled Beast e` un disco molto piu` rilassato e melodico (Tobacco In The Sink, Demons Begone, Krakow, Illinois), pur senza rinunciare alle cacofonie piu` crude (Sifter) e al sound dei Big Black (I Come From A Long Line Of Shipbuilders).

Appresa la lezione di Minutemen e Big Black, i Bastro la sposano ad atmosfere piu` catastrofiche che incendiarie, dove il tumulto e non la velocita` e` il prerequisito essenziale.

David Grubbs, Bundy Ken Brown (l'ultimo bassista dei Bastro) e McEntire formano poi i Gastr Del Sol.

Lo stile chitarristico di Grubbs non ha molti precedenti nel mondo del rock. In tutti i suoi travestimenti ha sempre dimostrato il pregio di rimanere coesivo e razionale anche al cospetto delle peggiori dissonanze. Semmai ha senso rispolverare gli acquarelli rurali di John Fahey, ai quali lo accomuna, se non altro, un senso quasi trascendente del divenire della musica, una propensione naturale per la libera improvvisazione.

The live Antlers (Drag City, 2006) documents their last season before they disbanded.

(Translated by Tobia D'Onofrio)

David Grubbs, already guitarist with Bitch Magnet, formed Bastro right after Squirrel Bait disbanded: in 1988 Grubbs recorded the EP Rode Hard And Put Up Wet (Homestead) with a drum machine and Squirrel Bait’s bass player, Clark Johnson.

 

The following year they released the first full-length Diablo Guapo (1989), an album that draws inspiration from Chicago’s noisy hardcore (Big Black), but also burns with an instrumental fever of neurotic nature, rather than psychotic or frustrated. Despite the fact that Grubbs thought he could do well without him, the key element of this sound is drummer John McEntire (ex My Dad Is Dead): the clumsy ride on horseback of Tallow Waters, the agitated roll of Filthy Five Filthy Ten, the deafening clangors of Guapo, always accompanied by twisters of dissonances. The trash number at breakneck speed of Flesh-Colored House is the only track that features melody and guitar riffs in the foreground and the drums in the background. Once he has paid homage to funk and jazz, thanks to such novelty punk numbers as Engaging The Reverend and Hoosier Logic, Grubbs can finally compete with both Universal Congress and fIREHOSE, without forgetting that his origins (Kentucky) justify “cow-punk” too. And we are not at all surprised by the fact that one of the best songs (if not the best) is actually the instrumental Short-Haired Robot with its martial metronomes.

 

Sing The Troubled Beast is a much more relaxed and melodic album (Tobacco In The Sink, Demons Begone, Krakow, Illinois), although it still features the rawest cacophonies (Sifter) and a similar sound to Big Black (I Come From A Long Line Of Shipbuilders).

 

Once they have learned the lesson from Big Black and Minutement, Bastro combine it with original atmospheres that sound catastrophic, rather than inflammatory and whose essential prerequisite is turmoil rather than speed.

 

David Grubbs, Bundy Ken Brown (the last of Bastro’s bass players) and McEntire form a new band, Gastr Del Sol.

 

In the history of rock music, Grubbs’ guitar style has hardly any precedents. He always demonstrated the great artistic quality of being rational and cohesive throughout his many camouflages, even in the presence of the worst cacophonies. If anything, it would make sense “dusting off” John Fahey’s rural watercolours, that share the same transcendental conception of Becoming in the world of music, a natural disposition towards free improvisation.

 

The live recording Antlers (Drag City, 2006) documents their last season before they disbanded.


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