I’ve been remiss in writing here. I’ve not been remiss in listening to music.
A little while ago I heard the stream of the new, self-titled, album by Chelsea Light Moving. I’ve listened to it a couple of times subsequently though I’ve yet to order up the vinyl. Something is stopping me. Tugging at me. Suggesting it might even be treacherous to do so…
Chelsea Light Moving (CLM) is the new band for Thurston Moore. He of Sonic Youth. I do own all of Mr Moore’s previous solo albums – at least the three that are readily available and not of the pure-noise variety. I even have Demolished Thoughts on vinyl – beautiful double coloured vinyl at that. But those were solo albums not ‘new band’ albums. It’s not that CLM is bad. Not at all, really, for a first effort. It bristles with all the energy that you’d expect of Thurston’s thrashier additions to an SY album and makes more noise than he ever does on his own. At least in song-mode.For the problem I have when listening to CLM is that this is as pretty clear indication as you’ll ever get that Sonic Youth should now be referred to in the past tense.
Given that the indie-rock world was thrown upside down by the news that Thurston and Kim Gordon recently announced that their marriage was over, it shouldn’t really be a surprise. Given that that they’ve been together and put out more music than any of their contemporaries, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Given that they recently parted ways with their long-term label Geffen (their going Major was one of the things that smoothed the way for Nirvana and many others to do so) and released The Immortal on an indie label as a one-time-only thing, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s not really a surprise. It is, though, a bloody big shame.
It’s hard to write about Sonic Youth and their music. Whenever I write about music I’m mindful of the quote that likens doing so to ‘dancing about architecture’. With such an analogy writing about Sonic Youth and their music is nigh on impossible. Others have tried, they’ve done so better than I ever could.
To me though, Sonic Youth were one of the greatest things to blow my ears apart, literally; I’m convinced that the hearing in my right ear has never been the same since I was close to front row and very close to intimate with Thurston Moore’s amps as they performed Daydream Nation in its entirety at Camden’s Round House. Listening to SY for the first time was like getting a key to a room full of ‘next-level music’. It was music that didn’t give a fuck – pure punk in that respect yet somehow effortlessly cool. No regard for tuning. No regard for form and traditional structure. No regard for anything but the feel. And it all made sense. Nobody else has been able to make music that’s so chaotic and deconstructive while still in complete control and ridiculously tight. Watching Thurston and Lee Ranaldo playing together was like watching music’s mad scientists create. And playing prepared guitar with a screwdriver? Forget it. Absolutely amazing.
It is a shame, and here’s more than a few reasons why:
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