David Grubbs, Jim O'Rourke's future Gastr del Sol partner, formed Bastro after the end of Squirrel Bait; the Kentucky-born guitarist/singer recorded the band's six-song debut with only a former bandmate, bassist Clark Johnson, and a rhythm machine. Bringing drummer John McEntire into the lineup, the trio made Bastro Diablo Guapo, an above-average LP that embraces — but isn't consumed by — Chicago-styled thrash noise. Rather than careen around like a rhinoceros plugged into an electric socket, Bastro stays tight, well-structured and musical, even when engaging in meltdown firepower.

Sing the Troubled Beast tempers Grubbs' extremist instincts to reveal a rough but stately melodic side, and an affecting poetic sensibility. The guitar has the rich textures of a Hammond organ (an instrument which, along with piano, makes an occasional appearance here); the rhythm section demonstrates the facility to dig trenches or drop back to small-scale time-keeping. While "The Sifter" is either a disastrous mastering mistake or just a pointless bit of transistorized foolishness, the haunting, somber "Tobacco in the Sink" crystallizes Bastro's achievements.

Rode Hard and Put Up Wet
Diablo Guapo
Sing the Troubled Beast
Split with My Dad is Dead
Split with Codeine

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