Posts Tagged ‘Sonic Youth’

Southern Lord – 25th February 2022

For many, the days of the longest, hardest lockdowns are, it would seem, behind us. And yet the shadow of the pandemic continues to hang long as dark; it’s hard to move on and truly put it behind us when life continues to be anything but normal; signage and masks and booster reminders are the new normal, and we face a new normal carrying scars of a personal nature, each and every one of us. Successive lockdowns, periods of isolation, have all affected us in different ways, and we’ve all suffered some form of trauma or psychological damage in living through conditions we’re simply not equipped for.

For many creative types, working through the experience has manifested in new artistic output. There’s something about channelling that anxiety into something, even if not direct or specific in addressing the issue, that helps to somehow minimise, contain, or otherwise manage it. Thurston Moore’s latest project, like so many was born out of a lockdown environment, and it’s an exploratory work, in so many ways. A series of instrumental guitar pieces recorded during the summer of 2020, it’s a document of, as the liner notes outline, a period where, ‘as the world confronted the pandemic shutdown and as the people of good conscious stood up against the oppression of racist police oppression and murder.’ It goes on to ask, ‘How much screen time does a parent allow a child? How much screen time does a child need to realise a world which has the means to coexist as a community in shared exchange?’

This feels like numerous issues, simultaneous but separate, have collided to inspire this album, and raises as many questions as answers. Moore is clearly placing his flag alongside Black Lives Matter, and it struck me – and surely many others – that the protests should have taken place when the world, pretty much, was in lockdown. How could this be? This was a moment in time when protest felt impossible. In fact, anything felt impossible. But the murder of George Floyd was a trigger and it marked a tipping point of something far, far bigger for so many. This was about centuries of oppression and division. The scenes aired over the news channels, globally, were electrifying. But how does this relate to monitoring the screen time parents should grant their children? Surely it’s less about the amount of time, but parental control, and the extent to which parents grant their children exposure to current affairs? That said, it’s something I’ve wrestled with myself. As a child, I had no interest in anything on the news; my own daughter, aged 10, is genuinely interested and has her views on our prime minister, our government, and the pandemic, and more. While I feel a duty to protect her from scenes of violence and endless report of rape, murder, abduction, and brutal crimes against women and children, I also feel that a certain degree of exposure to ‘the real world’ is beneficial, just as I’ve come to see that many computer games encourage problem-solving and eye-hand co-ordination. Screen time isn’t all bad if you can get over the generational differences. But.. but… no doubt, it’s a conundrum.

Screen Time offers no answers. As is often the case with instrumental works, there is little to be gleaned from them in and of themselves, and the titles offer little by way of interpretive guidance. The only thing that really struck me about the titles, in fact, is that several share their with cure songs: ‘The Walk’; ‘The Dream’. ‘The Upstairs’ feels like an allusion to ‘The Upstairs Room’ (the title of the 12” EP version of ‘The Walk’; but then again, all of the compositions are ‘the’ something: ‘The View’, ‘The Neighbour’, and these reflect the shrunken worlds we inhabited during this time: four walls, the view from the window, and the TV as the window to the world. There was nothing else but to look, and to ponder. Screen Time is a work of ponderance. It doesn’t have to be coherent, because coherent thought isn’t the state of the world right now. Show me someone who has a firm handle on everything that’s going on and I’ll show you a bullshitter. No-one knows anything, and we’re all just fumbling, stumbling through.

Many of the pieces on Screen Time are short, fragmentary, and sparse, only half-formed, but evocative and atmospheric: ‘The Walk’, a minimal piece consisting of a heavily chorused and echoed guitar trickling a cyclical motif for a minute and fifty-one seconds is exemplary. Elsewhere, ‘The Upstairs’ is a haunting piece led by disorientating, discordant piano that tumbles along.

At times reminiscent of Earth, or more specifically Dylan Carlson’s more recent solo work, Screen Time borders on ambience in its slow, soft unfurlings. The final piece, the nine-minute ‘The Realization’ is almost hypnotic; slow, with deep, resonant notes that reverberate and hover while harmonics chime and soar.

As a listening experience, Screen Time is pleasant, absorbing. I like it. But what does it say? It speaks for Thurston Moore alone, just as any such release can only speak for its composers and performers. That’s ok. When stitched together, in time, all the voices will combine to present the full picture. For now, what simply matters is that each voice keeps adding to the tapestry of documenting the present, a time unlike any other.

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31st May 2019 – Constellation Recods

Christopher Nosnibor

The album title may be as soaked in sickly-sweet dripping niceness as it is cliché, but it’s very much a contrast to the name of the Montréal trio responsible for it, just as it is with the music it contains. It’s pitched as ‘an exhilarating and relentless barrage of astringent noise-punk driven by the ferociously wide-screen tri-amped guitar squall of Kaity Zozula, the brawny pummel of Joni Sadler’s drums, and the wry subliminal/phenomenological sing-speak of vocal phenom Ky Brooks’, and one for fans of Au Pairs, Harry Pussy, Magik Markers, Melvins, X-Ray Spex, Life Without Buildings, Sonic Youth, and Perfect Pussy. All of which is to say that it’s a squalling, slanted, angular, gritty, snarling bastard of a record. Noisy? Oh yes, but it’s noise that’s not only about volume but extreme discord, about tones and abrasion that drills into the skull and hammers and the head and kicks at the kidneys and spits in the face while screaming ‘fuck you, motherfucker!’

It kicks off with the title track, a jolting, sinewy mess of choppy, trebly guitar that strains away at a repetitive riff that collapses into an angry buzz before everything goes haywire, any semblance of a tune crashing into an atonal mess of crashing cymbals and whiplash guitar noise that carries the listener away on a mudslide of underproduced sonic discomfort.

Stuttering, jarring guitars that buzz like swarms of furious hornets create crashing discord against calamitous bass and crashing percussion that can’t even pretend to be jazz: it’s wayward, deranged, demented, arrhythmic and difficult, and all better for it. The vocal is more spoken word than singing, the lyrics narrative rather than overtly lyrical. Rhymes ae even further out of the window than melodies, and everything about Honey is challenging and confrontational and rejects all notions of musicality and accessibility – which means it’s bloody great.

All of the reference points and comparisons are so underground that they’re probably worthless if attempting to pitch this to a wider audience, but if you dig Pram, Voodoo Queens, Lydia Lunch, then you’re going to be so into this. Then again, The Fall and Bleach era Nirvana, Siouxsie, Solar Race, and early Pavement are equally in evidence on a scuzzing raketmongous mess of an album that’s magnificently raw and not so much underproduced as delivered as is. This is a band that would work well with some Steve Albini action, but then again, you feel that Honey captures the band perfectly and as intended.

‘Flat White’ is a dirty dinge of spoken words that boil down contemporary hipsterized consumerist culture: ‘flat white and scummy’, although the majority of the album is fast and furious and emerges through a lurching, gut-churning murk. ‘Intrinsic’, unveiled ahead of the album, is a drawling, sprawling ugly mess of guitar-driven disaffection. Flat, trudging, bleak: Brooks’ dry vocal picks apart a repetitious, circular ponderance in a barren monotone against a grinding guitar for an age before the drum thumps in and then everything blasts off into all shades of sharding splinters of screaming nasty.

Nothing about this album is comfortable. I’ve spent the last few days searching for the perfect simile, but there isn’t one. It’s not like being punched in the guts or picked repeatedly in the abdomen, and nor is it remotely like an incision from a sharp blade – more like being hewn into pieces with a rusty saw while being beaten about the torso with a lump of rock. It’s not the volume that’s hard to handle, but the sheer relentless angularity. Nothing fits, and everything grates. Honey is the most awkward and abrasively serrated record I’ve heard all year. It’s so dissonant, atonal, and messed up, listening to it makes me want to puke. And that’s precisely why it’s probably the best thing I’ve heard so far this year.

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Lungbutter - Honey

Reunited NYC noise-rock royalty Live Skull have revealed new song "Up Against the Wall" – the song was written and recorded under the alias New Old Skull, as part of the "BC35" project honouring the legacy of producer Martin Bisi and his Brooklyn studio, BC Studio.

Stream the song here:

‘Up Against the Wall’ appears on BC35: Volume Two, the second instalment in the "BC35" series, due out April 19th on Bronson Recordings. In addition to New Old Skull (Live Skull), the album contains live performances of songs (some written, some improvised) by current and former members of Sonic Youth, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Blind Idiot God, Alice Donut, Lubricated Goat, and more.

Pre-order: https://bc35anniversary.bandcamp.com/album/bc35-volume-two-the-35-year-anniversary-of-bc-studio

Of the first "BC35" album, released last year, Pitchfork wrote: “The credits read like a who’s who of New York’s experimental underground… It’s a sonic embodiment of risk-taking, rule-breaking, and antithesis that celebrates the endurance of a man and a space tied directly to New York’s noise, art-rock, punk, free jazz, hip-hop, and alternative movements…”

With the release of "BC35: Volume Two" coming up, celebrating BC Studio and the ethic it represents, the future of the studio where Bisi has operated since the early 1980’s is unknown. A new rezoning proposal seeks to reshape the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, incentivizing residential development and tall buildings. Meanwhile, a grassroots push to landmark certain historic buildings, including the former factory where BC Studio is located, is in motion.

Bisi gave this statement to BrooklynVegan: “The looming rezoning feels like floodgates are about to burst. The City estimates 18,000 new residents, 8,200 new units. Their premise goes beyond the need for affordable housing, it’s based on the expectation of tens of thousands of jobs coming to NYC, and those people needing housing. It’s a vision similar to when the City wooed Amazon. Gentrification begets more gentrification. So the net shift will be grossly unaffordable. In carving out space for the arts in Gowanus, the rezoning encourages my building to expand, potentially up to 17 stories, to accommodate about 1,000 artists. My space was established at a time when I could utilize a large space, and I do, and depend on it. My fear is that I’m in the way of all this – that I could be sacrificed in the interest of a higher number of incoming artists, likely fairly affluent – and the character of the arts themselves gentrifying.”

BC35 Vol 2

Initial selections available now; new official content to be added on an ongoing basis.

Band to sell guitars, amps, LPs and more from throughout career on Reverb

Wednesday, October 24, 2018-nugs.net, the leading live music distribution platform for concert recordings, webcasts, and live archival releases has partnered with Sonic Youth to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band’s landmark album, Daydream Nation.

Effective immediately, Sonic Youth fans can access the initial live audio and video content being offered through nugs.net’s ongoing archival release program.  This content is available in the nugs.net music streaming service as well as in multiple download formats ranging from MP3 to hi-resolution audio, as well as on CD.

"Through the years and as the times changed we recorded our live shows as often as we could, on cassettes, DATs, CD-Rs and later on multi-track recorders. We collected fan-generated audience tapes, shady bootlegs and anything we could get our hands on. We now maintain an archive of hundreds of hours of Sonic Youth concerts and we’d like to share some of our favorites, often from the best uncirculated source possible via nugs.net." said Sonic Youth drummer, Steve Shelley.

nugs.net founder and CEO, Brad Serling added "Sonic Youth’s music has influenced innumerable artists across many different genres, past, present, and will continue to do so into the future.  For fans this is an incredible opportunity to revisit what they delivered as a live band touring the planet for three decades."

Sonic Youth’s partnership with nugs.net kicks off with the following shows; additional releases will appear on a regular ongoing basis:

Audio releases at launch include:

  • November 5, 1988: Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL USA
  • December 13, 1988: CBGB’s, New York, NY USA
  • August 17, 2002: Metro, Chicago, IL USA
  • August 22, 2007:  ABC1, Glasgow, Scotland*
  • October 21, 2009:  Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany
  • August 12, 2011:  Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn, NY USA

Video release at launch:

  • August 22, 2007:  ABC1, Glasgow, Scotland*

*In further recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the 1988 release Daydream Nation, members of Sonic Youth recently unveiled plans for special "30 Years of Daydream Nation" events to take place in select cities.  This will consist of the screening of three films and additional previously unseen footage. One film features a concert shot on video by filmmaker Lance Bangs, of the band playing Daydream Nation in its entirety in Glasgow, Scotland in 2007. 

Screenings have taken place in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Los Angeles, with a San Francisco screening tonight at The Alamo Drafthouse.  Future screenings are scheduled for Chicago, Austin, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn with potentially more dates on the horizon. Details for upcoming events are as follows:

  • October 24, 2018:  San Francisco, CA, New Mission Theatre with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs, Steve Shelley, Sonic Youth archivist Aaron Mullan and Brian Turner in conversation.
  • November 11, 2018: Chicago, IL, Music Box Theater with discussion panel featuring Thurston Moore, Steve Shelley, and Sonic Youth archivist Aaron Mullan.
  • November 12, 2018:  Austin, TX, Alamo Drafthouse-Ritz with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs and Matador Records’ Gerard Cosloy in conversation.
  • November 18, 2018: Philadelphia, PA, PhilaMOCA with discussion panel featuring Lance Bangs and Steve Shelley in conversation.
  • November 19, 2018: Brooklyn, NY, Alamo Drafthouse with discussion panel featuring Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Lance Bangs, and photographer Michael Lavine in conversation.

For those unable to attend these events, nugs.net will be making Lance Bangs’ film available on demand in the nugs.net subscription streaming service.  The show will also be available on DVD via nugs.net. Audio of the show will be made available as well.

The Official Sonic Youth Reverb Shop will launch on Tuesday, October 30, and will feature more than 200 pieces of gear used on tour and in the studio as far back as the 1988 and 1989 Daydream Nation tours through to 2011. The shop will also feature nearly 200 screen-printed show posters, rare poster-sized photographs, memorabilia, and personal relics from concerts throughout the band’s career.

To view currently available official Sonic Youth live releases please visit: https://nugs.net or download the app at http://nugs.net/app

February 19th sees Blank Editions release a very limited and hand assembled seven inch single from their Stoke Newington neighbour, Thurston Moore, to coincide with Not My President Day.

‘Mx Liberty’ raises its torch of truth and justice, as the poet Radieux Radio and Thurston Moore unleash a punk rock broadside to the current man-boys of the USA government in response to their mockery of democracy. The lyrics (included in a collage insert with the single, which also includes a pin badge) describe ‘Mx Liberty’ climbing over any and all fences with our so-called “enemies” in a radical heaven.

Thurston, with members of his London-based group, Deb Googe (My Bloody Valentine), James Sedwards (Nøught) and Jem Doulton (Dead Days Beyond Help), recorded the music in a studio near the early ‘70s HQ of Britain’s Angry Brigade on Amhurst Road, N16. This non-violent group of anarchists, poets and writers of resistance remain a source of radical inspiration for Thurston and Radieux.

On the flip is ‘Panik’, Thurston’s cover of one of the great generation zero punk rock records of all time. Originally recorded by the legendary Metal Urbain from the 1977 streets of Paris. Burning with insolence and primal angst energy, its lyrics are even more pertinent today in the face of contempo-demagoguery.

The sew single will be available from Blank Editions at their Stoke Newington HQ here:

Limited Edition 7” Package Contains:

– 7” Single

– Lyric Sheet Insert (Designed by Thurston Moore)

– Risograph Printed / Hand folded Covers

– Download Code

– 25mm Pin Badge

Thurston Moore

Unsounds – 54U

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one of many releases I’ve been sitting on – figuratively speaking – for a long time without getting round to playing. I tend to listen to CDs while at work in my day-job, and digital promos at home (because I can’t stream or download on work systems), and while I can stuff a bunch of regular CDs into a jiffy and carry them to and from the office, the packaging of this release made it simply impractical. That, and the fact I had to battle long and hard with myself to resist the urge to burn the thing.

It’s not that I have any kind of objection to any of the artists in this three-way collaboration, or take issue with its premise, namely a series of portraits of radical heretical figures from across history, spanning Caravaggio and the Marquis de Sade, to William Burroughs and Johnny Rotten. In fact, it’s a concept I can get on board with, and for months I’ve looked at the magnificent packaging, a box-type affair which folds out to reveal a CD, a DVD and a book containing all of the words to the tracks – some in French, some in English, some in a combination of the two – forming a rich linguistic tapestry. Published in an edition of just 1,000 copies, including 26 lettered copies, it’s a work of art, not a disposable piece of trash. But the box is a giant flip-front matchbook. The front cover is made of fine sandpaper, and glued inside the flap, on its own, stark and inviting is a match, a full fore inches long. What would be more in keeping with the spirit of the project than burning it without hearing so much as a note, and reviewing the sound of the fire taking hold and the rustle of art burning, the colour of the dancing flames and the texture of the ash? It would hardly be Watch the KLF Burn a Million Quid, but nevertheless… I’m a pussy. I was also too curious to explore the contents of the package. And having heard the album and watched the film, there was no way I could even pretend to burn it. I’m weak. I’m no heretic.

Chaton, Moor and Moore are no heretics, either: they’re artists who appreciate heretics. It’s not always obvious to whom each piece relates, and perhaps a priori knowledge of the individual heretical figures is beneficial, as is an ability to translate French. ‘The Things that belong to William’ does not mention Burroughs by name. However, the bilingual text, in referencing ‘a Paregoric Kid’, ‘Pontopon Rose’, ‘Joselito’, ‘Bradley the Buyer’ and a host of characters and scenes from Naked Lunch and beyond, the connection is clear – to those versed in the author’s work. ‘Poetry Must Me Made By All’ is, then, presumably, a dedication to Comte de Lautreamont, pro-plagiaristic precursor of the Surrealists, Situationists and Neoists, as well as the cut-up technique of Burroughs and Gysin.

Textually – these are texts and not lyrics, delivered in a spoken word / narrative form – it’s an erudite work, researched, intertextual, referential. Sonically, it’s no more immediate. Oblique, obtuse, challenging: these are the first descriptors which volunteer their services in untangling Heretics.

‘Casino Rabelaisien’ is a tense effort, with angular guitar clanging perpendicular to a gritty, awkward bass grind. Chatton remains nonchalant and monotone amidst the chaotic no-wave cacophony. ‘Dull Jack’ begins with Thurston’s voice alone, before churning guitars slither in. There are no regular rhythmic signatures here, no ‘tunes’, no hooks or melodies: instead, this is a set which uses instruments in a more abstract way, conjuring uneasy atmosphere and often simply attacking the senses.

With the guitars of Moor and Moore duelling, playing across one another as much as with one another, the effect is jarring, uncomfortable. Both players employ atonality and discord within their performances, and when discordant passages collide, it’s a brain-bending experience.

Heretics is a work which delivers on its promise and conveys the spirit of the outré, unconventional artists who inspired it. It is, in addition, a true work of art. Don’t burn it.

Heretics

Integrity Records – 21st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

This instrument-swapping Australian duo don’t piss about, blasting into their debut EP at a hundred miles an hour with the spitting guitar frenzy of ‘KYMS’ – that’s (should) ‘keep your mouth shut’, as the refrain goes.

They’re pitched as being ‘lost somewhere between The Melvins and Taylor Swift, and Dan’s aggressive holler is contrasted by El’s nonchalant pop tone. Previous single, ‘Sick’ doesn’t only sustain the initial momentum, but ratchets things up a notch. ‘Sky’ brings a mammoth bottom-heavy sludge riff to underpin the duelling vocals, the end result being somewhere between the no-wave noise of Sonic Youth and school of ’94 grunge.

The well-timed breakdowns and softer moments only accentuate the force of their straight-ahead, driving, hell-for leather blasts of bratty, sharp-tongued punky noise. Of course, as much as it’s always about the songs – and these are killer songs, without exception, with an unquestionable pop tint – it’s about the attitude. And yeah, MDS have got plenty of that. This is the sound of a band who have that perfect blend of being pissed off and not giving a fuck, the sound of a band who play hard for the release, who crank it up to the max because, well, it feels good and because they can. It’s a short, sharp, shock of a release, and one equates to awesomeness turned all the way to eleven.

 

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