Well, Austin, Texas. But expect more SA shows once the experimentalist with a sweet tooth for pop gets settled in. In the mean time, Rubio’s put out a pair of widely different works in the past few months: um and I Don’t Think I See a Difference.
On um, Rubio concentrates his efforts on the creative nature of destruction, “what happens when a particular tone or field recording is processed and distorted into oblivion,” according to his artist statement. Other than “Banjo” and “Fanjo,”—presumably Rubio tweaking a portable fan—it’s impossible as listeners to know the source material. But we can certainly witness the ashes of Rubio’s damage to the foundational sounds. Like a test site for the eeriest and most interesting samples on Kanye West’s Yeezus, um is a chilling landscape of chaos and decay. On “Suck,” an unassuming, tinnitus tone evolves over 10 minutes into an all-encompassing, apocalyptic crunch. After listening to the 33-second “Woah,” I can understand why dogs are afraid of vacuums.
Meanwhile, I Don’t Think I See a Difference is a seven-track venture in subtractionist folk, deleting everything but the most essential of vocal and banjo sounds. It’s a sparse record, padded only by Rubio’s non-performative singing, infrequent organ additions and the ubiquitous banjo. From the recursive, DL-4 treatment and self-conversations of “the war on xmas” to the long, stressful tones of “nocturne of banjo and voice 1 (decided to stay),” Rubio shows an impressive range on I Don’t Think I See a Difference. “A blues (buyer),” a 42-second look into Rubio’s dense language, is a nice reminder that Rubio can still reign it in for a straight-ahead approach; with a different instrumentation, it could be a Minutemen song.