Gastr Del Sol: Jim O'Rourke, David Grubbs, Markus Popp.
Additional personnel: Edith Frost (vocals); Julie Pomerleau (violin, viola); Maureen Loughnane (violin); Ken Vandermark (clarinet); Rob Mazurek (cornet); Jeremy Ronkin (French horn); Jeb Bishop (trombone); Darin Gray (bass); John McEntire (drums); Steve Butters (steel drum); Stephen Prina (background vocals).
Along with fellow Chicagoans Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol has managed to create an indie-rock audience for progressive music. On this release, the last with multi-instrumentalist and producer Jim O'Rourke, the group's music is more melodic and concise than in the past. But at the same time, the group retains its dedication to experimenting with song forms and production techniques.
Augmented by friends and hired hands who play a variety of instruments, Gastr aims for the grand pop of Van Dyke Parks on tracks like "The Seasons Reverse" and "Each Dream Is an Example," which feature horns, violin, accordion, piano, and even steel drums. At the same time, Markus Popp of Germany's digital music renegades Oval contributes heavily to some tracks, giving a seething electronic undertow to the songs. The spirited acoustic guitar duets that highlighted previous releases are here as well, particularly on the Vietnamese folk song "Black Horse" and the final track, "Bauchredner." David Grubbs sings his literate musings more effectively than ever before, and O'Rourke even handles the vocals on one song. The wide-ranging but always sharply focused CAMOUFLEUR combines all these disparate elements in a satisfying and organic way.
Entertainment Weekly (4/10/98, p.67) - "...CAMOUFLEUR is their most listenable--and ambitious--work yet....the album still boasts plenty of weirdness (steel drums!), but only rarely does it interfere with the pure beauty of their sound." - Rating: A-
Magnet (3-4/98, p.66) - "...disguises a genuine urgency behind elegant and melodic tropes only suggestive of minimalism....Grubbs and O'Rourke: the new breed of American classicists."
The Wire (1/99, p.27) - Included in Wire's "50 Records Of The Year "
NME (Magazine) (1/24/98, p.36) - 7 (out of 10) - "...The songs on CAMOFLEUR have a warmth about them that Gastr Del Sol's more experimental work lacked; if anything, it's closer to the spirit of Can..."