Sunday, July 17, 2011

Demolished Thoughts - Thurston Moore (SUMMER 2011)

Demolished Thoughts

Thurston Moore
Matador Records.

SCQ Rating: 81%

Two summers ago, Sonic Youth – with their matchless and storied history – began to lose the plot. For all of The Eternal’s lovely John Fahey cover-art and intellectual mind-traps posing as contextual support, the music itself often felt slight, pushing forward without discerning what the present moment meant – in hooks, verses, breakdowns, whatever. From the outward perspective of a music writer, The Eternal suggested that Sonic Youth’s period of tangible influence was slipping from active to retrospective, and forthcoming records would be met with unanimous lip-service but few ripples in the landscape of indie-rock.

Following that scattershot full-length of forlorn ideas and Sonic Youth trademarks, Thurston Moore’s third solo outing bears a lark of a title. These thoughts aren’t demolished; they’re actually quite similar to the grunge poetry Moore has written in Sonic Youth for the past few decades. Only, what propelled his visceral wordplay toward the violent, abstract and frenetic has been replaced by a lush intimacy that anchors on acoustic guitar and symphonic accents. Masterfully focused without sacrificing the bite or psychedelia of his band’s best work, Demolished Thoughts feels more like a guided meditation, seamless and humbly awe-inspiring.

The abstractions thankfully remain. Samara Lubelski’s violin and Moore’s plainspoken acoustic open with the decidedly delicate ‘Benediction’, something that sounds almost fluffy against Moore’s prior work. But it’s a quietly stirring song that leads us toward more fertile songwriting, like the woozy, harp-laden ‘Illuminine’ and the deep orchestral chasms of ‘Mina Loy’. And I don’t lead with those highlights simply because the likes of Lubelski and harpist Mary Lattimore convey loving inflections upon Moore’s six-string work (although yes, they fill out a single-minded ensemble alongside some synth-playing producer I’ve never heard of named Beck Hansen). I mention these songs, as well as the ferocious restraint of would-be rocker ‘Circulation’, because Moore owns them. Demolished Thoughts’ songwriting stands on its own two feet, even though many of its sonic avenues would’ve remained in the dark without this great supporting cast. In the cases of ‘Orchard Street’ and ‘Space’, it’s hard to ignore the impulse to declare this Thurston’s Astral Weeks; it’s that contemplative and layered, if rarely so spritely. If there’s any room left for veteran statement-records in the blogosphere, Demolished Thoughts will be remembered.

03 Circulation by Thurston Moore

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