David Grubbs – The Plain Where the Palace Stood
The second song on David Grubbs’ first full-length in five years, I Started to Live When My Barber Died, is a playful meditation on the creative potency of relinquishing control. Characteristically, it’s a sentiment tinged with irony and ambivalence: throughout Grubbs’ career, his work has sought to combine obsessive attention to detail with the magic of improvisation and chance.
In some ways, The Plain Where the Palace Stood continues where its predecessor, An Optimist Notes the Dusk, left off: Ornamental Hermit, for example, is a typically complex, oblique slice of avant garde guitar-pop. There is, however, an unusual sense of fragmentation here. Barring the closing Third Salutation – a hauntingly minimal landscape of feedback – none of the pieces overstep the 5-minute mark, and the LP flirts with drone-folk and math-rock. If Grubbs is resisting the urge to impose a controlling vision, he’s nonetheless created something with its own compelling logic. [Sam Wiseman]