Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts (2011)

The repeated phrases of "without shame, without shame" on "Mina Loy" (track 7) perfectly articulate the feelings of critical defiance and courageous self-redefinition that are present in Thurston's new solo album. Because maybe it's just the addition of the lazy, sweeping strings in the background, or perhaps the subdued and subtle guitar work, but with Demolished Thoughts, it finally appears as though Moore has made a name for himself as a singer/songwriter outside the often inescapably realms of Sonic Youth and his dozens of other projects. There's still the characteristic Thurston to be found in the album, but the go-to techniques that he's been imploring for years seem to have reached full maturation, and have blended together on this 100% acoustic album in a unique way to create a wholly original and uniquely charming release.

There's certainly stereotypical Thurston in the album. "Circulation" begins a bit of all too recognizable quick-wristed, loose, punky guitar work that's come to define the Lee/Moore guitar dichotomy over the years. There's also prime examples of the all-too-cryptic lyrics that he's been known for over the years with stand-alone lines like "Wet and drunken desire, dripping tears" in the track "Orchard Street." And as with almost every true Sonic Youth composition, there's some (although here, subdued) squeaky, shrill guitar buildups that happen after a couple of verses.

But there's a lot of new techniques that Moore implores on this album that make it fresh exciting for any Sonic Youth fan to listen to. As mentioned before, the presence of really soft and pure string in every track is a welcomed addition to the instrumental core that takes some pressure off the guitar while providing some rhythmic value. Also, without mucking up the melody, some slick production from Beck adds an elusive stand-up bass to the background of the album. It's pretty subtle, but it allows the album to maintain depth without obscuring or burdening the melodies. Oh, and did I mention that there's a prevalent lack of percussion? That's right, the man's made a living of banging, crashing, and exploding sounds and there's only a few drum tracks on this album. And for some reason, it makes sense. If there were a little snare and cymbal in the background on every track, it wouldn't sound bad, but it would add a weird sense of urgency to an album that really has nothing to prove. The usually loud Thurston Moore impatient and in-your-face sonic suggestions of "what if?" and "why not?" are replaced by languid expressions of perfect musical content. Instead of the usual punk call to arms, the album's expressions are far more introverted and less enigmatic. And maybe that's what separates it from even his previous acoustic release, Trees Outside the Academy. Certainly the two albums are technically similar, but on Demolished Thoughts there is even less of a sense of responsibility and continuity. Thurston has finally, quite totally, removed himself from the lifelong cliches that critics have been firing at him. This album seeks not to be "innovative," "cutting-edge," "chaotic," or "noisy" or any of the pigeon-holed tags that writers insist on pushing on Moore, but stands as a deep sigh of rebellious accomplishment.

Demolished Thoughts is a gorgeous album that any musician could be proud of making, but I'm especially happy to see probably one of my favorite guitarist of all time, who has been so predictably unpredictable, finally make a solo album that is totally unpredictably predictable.

1 comment:

  1. Nice writeup austin, im really excited to hear this one