For those who came to know David Grubbs and John McEntire from their more progressive work (Gastr del Sol, Tortoise) it's hard to make sense of Bastro by looking backward at this reissue. But at the time, the whole Squirrel Bait/Bastro/Bitch Magnet/Slint axis made perfect sense in a Steve-Albini-produced-it sort of way. As college-educated young men with the need to bludgeon their guitars without being morons about it, each of these bands produced albums that were astonishingly forceful, but equally out of sorts with the late-'80s/early-'90s heaviness that surrounded them. While Squirrel Bait was the rawest and Slint the most complex, Bastro and Bitch Magnet split the difference, deploying bass-heavy thud into pummeling tracks thick with dynamics. Bastro was much more relentless and lyrically obscure and, when released, Troubled Beast seemed like a much more "difficult" record than Diablo. However, when teamed up on a single disc (without, sadly, their debut EP), the similarities are far more prevalent. What's most invigorating about this double shot of Bastro, though, is that it might turn a generation of geeky post-rockers on to the fact that it's possible to be smart and to rock mightily.
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