Archive for the sonic youth Category

Sonic Youth – Silver Session for Jason Knuth (SKR) 1998

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, sonic youth with tags , , , on March 21, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I’ve never been entirely convinced of the more Avant Garde side of Sonic Youth. I’ve followed them through most of their periods, faithfully buying each new release. For some reason I never dabbled with the SYR series until I picked up the thing they did with Merzbow at the Rokslide festival. Maybe the reason for my lack of adventure when it comes to experimental  Sonic youth is because I don’t think I’ve ever read a review that does anything but treat these releases with stark indifference.

Jason Knuth was a Sonic Youth fan who committed suicide in 1997. The proceeds of this record went to a San Franscisco suicide prevention hotline. The music itself was created when the band were in a recording studio and were being troubled by the music of one of the other bands recording at the time. To get their own back, they rested every guitar and bass they could find against the speakers which had been turned up to maximum and recorded what happened. A beatbox was added to create some “horrendously distorted pulsations”. On the liner notes Thurston Moore states that in a way this is his favourite Sonic Youth record. I’m not quite there but it would be in my top five.  In the end after the mixing and processing that created the eight tracks of Silver Session, this is half an hour of great drone. Like a Metal Machine Menche if you will. Excellent.

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Thurston Moore – Sensitive/Lethal (No Fun Productions) 2008

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, sonic youth, Thurston Moore with tags , on December 6, 2008 by noisenoisenoise

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You’d think that considering  my relatively recent explorations of noise, drone avant rock and experimental skull fuckery, I would have, by now,  dabbled in the more out-there output of my favourite band of all time Sonic Youth. But alas until the last two weeks I’ve left their experimental recordings alone. The reason for this may be an earlier expereince I had with SYR1 which didn’t exactly  light up my life at the time.  Whatevey the reason I thought it time to start devling into the vast back catalogue of Sonic Youth related experimental music to see whether in fact I have been missing something.

My first stop is Sensitive/Lethal. Not exactly back catalogue  but it was the only thing I could purchase quickly.  I’ve always found Thurston Moore to be a difficult proposition as an artist  mainly because I struggle to reconcile that the man who same up with the almighty Sister album is also responsible for the flatulent crap on Washing Machine. In fact it is for that reason I had stayed away from his earlier mainstream album Psychic Hearts and his more recent Trees Outside the Academy (if anyone want to give me their honest thoughts about Trees I’d really appreciate it). Trust between he and I is an issue, enough said. But fuck it I’m a huge, huge,huge fan of Carlos Giffoni and his No Fun label and my thinking was that I was on safe ground with Sensitive/Lethal because Giffoni couldn’t possibly release any shit on his label. I’m happy to say that my twisted logic was correct and Moore has in fact released a work of exceptional guitar based drone, intersecting with noise/experimental elements. I’d go a step further and say that it should (if there was in any justice in the world) be on a whole heap of those end of year best of lists that start cropping up about now. There are three tacks on Sensitive Lethal. The two main tracks are oddly enough Sensitive and Lethal. Both over the 20 minute mark. They are split by the extremely short by drone standards Lonesome. It’s difficult to explain the sound that Moore creates but it’s fair to say it’s less noisy than Giffoni and with the  added bonus that I can actually figure out the instruments being played. In fact Lethal has some early guitar elements that reminded me a little of Sunn O))). Full of festive cheer this one.

Sonic Youth – Sister (Blast First) 1987

Posted in Music, sonic youth on December 10, 2007 by noisenoisenoise

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I’ve been listening to Sonic Youth’s Sister for the past couple of weeks. For some reason it’s considered to be much cooler to saythat Daydream Nation was the best thing Sonic Youth ever did. Well I’m here to tell you that they are wrong and they can all go fuck themselves because nothing, fucking nothing, is as good as Sister.

Sister is still number one on my all time list of favourite records. There is a warmth to the sound and even an intimacy in the way it is recorded that make Sister sound like Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi at once. It’s a noisy, record of weird tunings, distortion, fuzz and punk attitude. There are Kim’s moments of haunting, yet strangely menacing beauty, recorded through a filter of heroin and regret. The fuck-off avant-garde punk rock of Tuff Gnarl and Catholic Block have never been bettered. The songs are extraodinary and as an album it works in ways that Daydrean Nation couldn’t. There is no wank factor on Sister. Their is no indication of the pompous indulgence and the embarrassing efforts to stay relevant that blighted their later work. To my ears it is the perfect record.

That’s not to say that I’m a total Sonic Youth whore. I find it easier to break their back catalogue up into three’s. For instance the first three albums can be grouped into their no wave period (Sonic Youth, Confusion is Sex, Bad Moon Rising), next we get the mesmerising sonic bliss of their best three (Evol, Sister and Daydream Nation), after that the grab for the big time (Goo, Dirty and Experimental Jet Set and No Star), the three albums that proceeded to off load all of the alt-rock good will (Washing Machine, A Thousand Leaves and NYC Songs and Stories) and the final three, the mildly bored musings of the grand parents of the rock underground (Murray Street, Sonic Nurse and Rather Ripped). Out of all of those albums the only two that I cannot stand are Experimental … and Washing Machine. Those two records are fucking awful. Both of them. In particular it is that semi acoustic shit that Thurston does that I just don’ get. Both of those records are peppered with, dare I say it, lameness, even pathetic earnestness. There’s a uni student who works with me who has pretty good taste, and he started to recommend Thurston Moore’s new record and I had to explain that I just couldn’t. The fucker had burnt me before and I just can’t be interested in anything he does that had descriptions like “acoustic” attached to it. Likewise the “mature” sound of the final three records just didn’t light up my life. Those records are fine in their own way but that’s no longer enough for me.

I suppose the reason for this post is that Sonic Youth are coming to Australia (although not Brisbane) to play the entirety of Daydream Nation. I’m thinking of buying a ticket for Melbourne but somehow I wish that they were playing Sister instead.

Harry Crews – Naked in Garden Hills (Widowspeak) 1990

Posted in harry crews, lydia lunch, Music, sonic youth on October 7, 2007 by noisenoisenoise

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It’s nostalgia time again and as anyone who reads this knows I’m always a little wary of collaborations but when it is done by the undisputed Queen of collaboration there is little to fear. Harry Crews were one off supergroup that formed in 1988 of Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and a former pro-wrestler Sadie Mae on drums. They never made it into a studio to record these tracks instead its essentially an amalgam of two live shows they did during their one and only tour of Europe in September 1988. It’s a strange concept album based on the writings of underground writer Harry Crews. Mr Crews is a master of southern gothic and was doing twisted Palahnuik-style tales before Palahniuk was even born. Each of the songs is based around one of his books and each sounds like a no-wave interpretation of the Gun Club. Filthy hardcore swamp rock with the blues stripped out if you know what I mean. Lydia is at her howling banshee best and Ms Gordon rams her bass right through the middle of it’s heart. It’s grubby unclean punk of the finest quality.

As an aside this is yet another fine example of a great record that’s now sadly out of print. There’s a couple of copies on Amazon on the moment and I reckon besides ebay that’s the only way you’re going to track this down.

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