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David Grubbs - Off-Road

David Grubbs


Release date: October 15, 2021
David Grubbs and Mats Gustafsson currently make up 2/3s of The Underflow, the trio with Rob Mazurek, but their history stretches back into the last century, when they crossed paths during a serious Chicago heyday and Mats appeared on Gastr del Sol's Upgrade & Afterlife. Off-Road, originally released on CD by Blue Chopsticks in 2002, is Grubbs and Gustafsson's second of two duo albums, the follow-up to Apertura (1999). Apertura consists of two long improvised duos for harmonium and reeds, making it the slowest, steadiest boil in either participant's discography. Off-Road finds the two of them forsaking their earlier, near-static m.o. for a shower of digitally re-composed slivers, the metal-on-metal timbre of a saxophone equipped with contact mics, Grubbs's chiming electric guitar, backstage field recording (a glass-topped table full of bottles dragged along a concrete floor), and Gustafsson's Pro Rhythm analog synthesizer clipped to the bell of his horn. (The combination of reeds, guitar, and analog electronics seems an eerie precursor to The Underflow.) Turntablist Henry Moore Selder makes a couple of guest appearances marked by sharp rhythmic counterpoint and low-frequency warbles and moans. Off-Road was recorded in Stockholm immediately following Grubbs and Gustafsson's Scandinavian tour in February 2002. Those shows were chaotic events that flowed from song to free-jazz freakout to drone tunnel to digital collage to mouthless saxophone and brainless, bruising guitar. Off-Road has a similar range in an even more compact time frame, from the improvised pop tune "Pumpkin Creek" to the fractured, groove-cursed "Three If by Train," and from the meditative, still surfaces of "Rendezvous up North" to the fire-alarm plunderphonics of "Back Off." In 2021 Grubbs and Gustafsson put their heads together and decided to revise the track order on Off-Road-hence the present improved sequence.
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