Personnel: David Grubbs (electric guitar).
Recording information: The Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn (11/2014-07/2015).
David Grubbs plugs in his electric guitar and lets his muse take him where it will on this short, primarily instrumental collection. Only one track on Prismrose features vocals, a musical adaptation of Walt Whitman's poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer," and half of these six compositions feature no accompaniment, letting Grubbs' guitar do all the work. The other three numbers include percussion from artist and musician Eli Keszler, and while Grubbs doesn't specify it, most of the material here sounds as if Grubbs was improvising in the studio (or came up with these pieces through improv sessions). Keszler's rolling waves of percussion blend well with the thoughtful minimalism of Grubbs' guitar work, and these soundscapes are a fine example of the buzzy joys of Grubbs' music. Several of these tracks sound as if they could have grown into songs if the guitarist had invested more time and attention in them (especially closer "The Bonsai Waterfall"), but part of the appeal of Prismrose is its spare, unfinished quality. This music subtly draws the listener into its orbit, not unlike John Fahey's more languid work of the '60s and '70s, and if the music often seems casual, it also comes off as honestly felt, and there are moments of genuine beauty here. It would be a mistake to say Prismrose is one of David Grubbs' major works, but it's still the work of a gifted and intelligent artist, and its simple charm and playfulness make it worthy of investigation. ~ Mark Deming