Gastr Del Sol - We Have Dozens of Titles

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Nearly twenty-five years after disbanding, Gastr del Sol have unpacked their archive, stringing together an alternative view to their genre-melting 1993-1998 run. This assembly of previously uncollected studio recordings and beautifully captured unreleased live performances forms a spacious ode to the flux that was their métier; a further set of reinventions that continue to alter the manner in which we hear music, and literally everything else!

Like a bolt echoing back from the blue, We Have Dozens of Titles restrikes the iron of Gastr del Sol, plunging the listener (that’s us!) back into the maelstrom of their all-too-brief (-but-ultimately-long-enough-to-change-everything-incisively) passage of 1993-1998 via an assembly of previously uncollected studio recordings and beautifully captured unreleased live material.

Gastr del Sol’s music was of the transformative variety – or was it transfiguration they were up to? Or transmigration? Flux was key, to be sure. David Grubbs formed Gastr from the final lineup of Bastro; on Gastr’s del Sol’s debut, The Serpentine Similar, Grubbs, Bundy K. Brown and John McEntire downshifted from a thrashing electric outfit into a droning, acoustic-based one. Following this, the lineup shifted again, decisively – Brown and McEntire departed to focus on the project to be known as Tortoise, and Jim O’Rourke arrived, pairing with Grubbs to make a sequence of unpredictable leaps across genre and practical approach alike, over three LPs and a pair of EPs that threatened the passage of musical time as we knew it in the mid-90s.

We Have Dozens of Titles contains nearly an hour of previously unreleased live recordings, alongside another near-hour of studio recordings culled from previously uncollected singles, EPs, and compilations. At long last, vinyl purchasers will hear the full range of “The Harp Factory on Lake Street”, “Dead Cats in a Foghorn”, “Quietly Approaching” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s” for the first time EVER on vinyl – all of it, live and studio alike, lovingly mastered and remastered by Jim O’Rourke, and packaged in a three LP box set with a wicked Roman Signer image on its removable lid, interior printing on the box bottom and inner sleeves for each LP with performance credits for all the songs.

As much as Gastr del Sol’s albums showcase a group eminently at home in the studio, they were inclined to thoroughly reinvent their compositions in performance. While reviewing live tapes for this compilation, the studio versions of most things felt more and more definitive, with the exception of the live takes included here, which essay startling new qualities in pieces that have been in the public ear for several decades.

The majority of these live performances come from a miraculous find in the CBC archive – a broadcast-quality recording of Jim and David from the 1997 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. This was the last time they performed together as Gastr del Sol, during which several still-gestating Camoufleur pieces were presented in radically different forms and Jim played organ on a track from David’s first solo album, the concert-closing, band closing (and now album-closing) version of "Onion Orange”.

The studio recordings included were originally released by the Red Hot Organization, God Mountain, Table of the Elements, Sony Japan, Teenbeat and Drag City. Studios utilized in the making of the material were Idful Music Corporation, Kingsize Soundlab and steamroom. The extended company of players on these numbers includes Jeb Bishop, Bundy K. Brown, Steve Butters, Gene Coleman, Thymme Jones, Terri Kapsalis, John McEntire, Günter Müller, Bob Weston and Sue Wolf – a virtual “what’s who wha'?!?” of Chicago’s hothouse scene in those times.

We Have Dozens of Titles revisits the slow-burning incendiaries of Gastr del Sol, finding, once again and after so much time elapsed, another, further set of reinventions from a group who continues to change the way we hear music.

Track List:
The Seasons Reverse (live)
Quietly Approaching
Ursus Arctos Wonderfilis (live)
At Night and At Night
Dead Cats in a Foghorn
The Japanese Room at La Pagode
The Bells of St. Mary’s
Blues Subtitled No Sense of Wonder (live)
20 Songs Less
Dictionary of Handwriting (live)
The Harp Factory On Lake Street
Onion Orange (live)