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***Strange to say, but Borough of Broken Umbrellas is DAVID GRUBBS’ first record of solo guitar improvisations. From his time in GASTR DEL SOL forward, Grubbs has frequently cast himself in the role of the composer/songwriter working with improvisers—witness his collaborations with Jim O’Rourke, Mats Gustafsson, Noël Akchoté, Loren Connors, Ken Vandermark, and many others. Borough of Broken Umbrellas emerges from a period in which Grubbs has been particularly focused on writing music. 2013 saw the release of The Plain Where the Palace Stood (Drag City), his first solo album in five years, as well as the completion of a forthcoming second album by the trio Belfi / Grubbs / Pilia and a new full-length collaboration with Susan Howe. Borough of Broken Umbrellas is a profoundly unhurried probing (sometimes worrying, like a tongue and a tooth) of a handful of gorgeously spare themes. The last time that David sat down and slowly unspooled a scroll of ideas and gestures in this fashion was his first solo record—a record of solos—the 1997 Banana Cabbage, Potato Lettuce, Onion Orange (Table of the Elements). Where Banana Cabbage was comprised of three solos on three instruments (piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Borough of Broken Umbrellas divides its sides between two long (c. 12’) tracks for electric guitar and nylon-string guitar. Comparisons are unnecessary and perhaps misleading. On the surface, the Guitar Roberts (Loren Connors’ former nom-de-guitar) albums on St. Joan? Tetuzi Akiyama in his more lyrical mode? Jozef van Wissem’s mirror-image melodies for lute? Japanese koto and Korean kayagum sanjo music? Borough of Broken Umbrellas is living-room music in real time, with the windows open. (STREET DATE - 12/17/2013)