Review : Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
PitchforkThe first words you're likely to hear in relation to Thurston Moore's Demolished Thoughts are "acoustic" and "folk." Indeed, the Beck Hansen-helmed album was made mostly with six- and 12-string acoustic guitars, harps, violins, bass (sometimes upright), and drums. But to call this record "folk" or "acoustic" is to mistakenly suggest that it's relaxed comfort music from an aging dude who still sings about teenage riots with his hoary rock band. Rather, Demolished Thoughts is as immediate and form-warping as Moore's work with Sonic Youth, comprising nine anxious, charged songs about fleeting time and failing happiness, played with veteran resilience. Jokes about old men and their Martins need not apply.
The essentials of this project might recall Trees Outside the Academy, Moore's song-oriented solo album from 2007. (The "song-oriented" distinction is necessary if reductive, as Moore seems to release between one and, oh, 47 experimental discs every year.) Violinist Samara Lubelski is the only Trees alumna on Demolished Thoughts. Moore returns with a consistent, cohesive band-- Lubelski, harpist Mary Lattimore, guitarist Bill Nace, Hansen and his regular collaborators, drummer Joey Waronker and bassist Bram Inscore. As such, this is a much more rigorous and singular album, constructed with a definite, deliberate sonic approach that his previous solo work has foregone. Trees had its moments, but, as a whole, it was uneasy and unsettled, as though Moore finally made it into a studio to record ideas he'd tucked away in notebooks during Sonic Youth tours. Demolished Thoughts feels less like a side-project of afterthoughts, more like a careful album cut with a smartly assembled band.
Instruments aside, Demolished Thoughts isn't built like typical folk music, or even the chiseled chamber folk of the last decade or so. The hazy, nearly seven-minute "Orchard Street", for instance, gets through its lyrics in nearly half its running time; the second, instrumental half sounds like an acoustic reinvention of the glorious codas from Sonic Youth's Murray Street, the role of the pounding drums taken by battered guitar strings, the squall of the electric guitars replicated with harp runs and violin trills. The album's other longer stretch, the appropriately titled "Space", moves in perfectly expanding and contracting waves. Moore enters with the tone of someone who's given up on patience: "I used to have all the time in the world/ Cruising galaxies in search of gold," he sings, the unease in his voice dismissing any back-porch associations. Even at their prettiest, like the slow-rolling and sad-eyed "Benediction" or the gently exhaling closer, "January", these songs move in unexpected ways, whether it's the players pushing into unlikely patterns or the production embellishing some unseen aspect. As with his other band, Moore succeeds by folding great ideas into otherwise good songs....full text
GuardianA more relaxed attitude to experimentation than a young, guitar-abusing Sonic Youth would have countenanced has informed their recent records: 2006's Rather Ripped explored the taut parameters of the three-minute pop song and here Thurston Moore, half of the band's central couple, creates something equally satisfying out of the moods and textures of folk music. Beck produces and his own acoustic record Sea Change is an obvious point of comparison. But the slowly unfolding quality of many of these tracks recalls psych-folk group Espers, while "Circulation"'s controlled energy sounds like nothing so much as an unplugged Sonic Youth....full text
BbcGiven Sonic Youth’s epic 30-year catalogue and his own splurges of mostly improv- and/or noise-based collaborations, you wouldn’t expect Mr Kim Gordon to pick up an acoustic guitar and go all third Velvet Underground album on us. But Moore’s preceding solo album, 2007’s Trees Outside the Academy, contained a handful of dreamy odes, which Demolished Thoughts expands from delicate beginning to serene end. Don’t let its wired and desperate title fool you.
Weirdly, Demolished Thoughts is also the name of Moore’s ‘supergroup’ project with Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis and Andrew W.K.; and talking of Moore’s pal and fellow Northampton, Massachusetts resident and heavenly rock god Mascis, he’s just released an acoustic album, too: Several Shades of Why. But if Mascis’ record still resembles prototype Dinosaur Jr. demos, Moore’s album sounds quite removed from Sonic Youth. In part, that’s down to the album’s producer, one Beck Hansen, whose own exquisite Sea Change album of 2002 had similar overtones of Nick Drake’s rustic beauty and autumnal colours, amplified by violinist Samara Lubelski (note how the escalating violin scales of Blood Never Lies echoes Sea Change’s Lonesome Tears). There’s also occasional harp by Mary Lattimore and bass/percussion timbres. But mostly it’s Thurston and his gentle demolished thoughts.
That said, the mood is anything but Drake-style depressed resignation or even Sea Change’s relationship meltdown. Moore’s breathy vocals and lyrical agenda come from a more accepting place – a reflection of middle age with plenty of life left (spring, not autumn). Given how many projects Moore still contributes to, that’s pretty much a given. Here, he builds his tender tunes on swathes of acoustic thrumming, in mesmerising and nuanced patterns, often at length (nine songs average out at five minutes plus), with more British hallmarks (the acoustic mastery of John Renbourn, Martin Carthy and Michael Chapman). There are expected ruminations – Orchard Street (the sole up-tempo strummer) looks back at New York City, where Moore arrived in 1976, full of young poetic punk dreams and a fantasy of marrying Patti Smith. And then there’s the unexpected – Benediction hints at religious faith....full text
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