by Gianpaolo Arena

GASTR DEL SOL “Upgrade & Afterlife” 1996 Drag City

Photo: Marek Rogowiec/Roman Signer Wasser Stiefel/Water Boots, 1986

The unusual talents of David Grubbs and Jim O'Rourke meet up in a prodigious project of ‘total music’ and “border” laws that are programmatically gutted in the long opening song Our Exquisite Replica of “Eternity”. According to O'Rourke, the piece was created to kill with laughter as the horns enter with the rest of the orchestration, which summarizes much of the eclectic and varied influences of Gastr Del Sol: Satie, Cage, Messiaen, Morricone Red Crayola, Ry Cooder, the Anthology of American Folk Music and all the body and spirit of John Fahey (Dry Bones in the Valley is fetched from his repertoire). Remarkably balanced between tradition and experimentation, silence and noise, the album sees the collaboration of many of the main protagonists of the avant and improvisation contemporary scene: Gene Coleman, Tony Conrad, Kevin Drumm, Mats Gustafsson, John McEntire, Günter Müller and Ralf Wehowsky. An extreme urgency for the experimental and a candid openness to the wonder and amazement that the things of this world can give us, emerge in this music only if we open ourselves to it with passion and courage. Surprise, astonishment and a sense of disbelief are found in the cover designed ten years earlier by Roman Signer, and closed by the shot of Marek Rogowiec. The entire path of the Signer’s artistic research has been concentrated around the idea of transformation and procedural motion. Through actions and performances aimed at redefining the parameters of time and space, the Swiss artist has been creating an ephemeral and eccentric body of work using the physical laws of natural phenomena such as wind, currents of rivers and the force of gravity. The amazing process of forward motion found in the artwork shares the same lucid frenzy and stunning visionary sensibility with Gastr Del Sol’s vision.



Roman Signer (website) 

© Roman Signer, Zelt, 2002, Videostills: Aleksandra Signer

David Grubbs and Jim O'Rourke of Gastr del Sol © Photo by Manfred Rahs

Free Verse: Susan Howe and David Grubbs, Walker Art Center, 2010

© All copyright remains with the photographer and property


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