Tuesday, May 24, 2011
[pitchfork.com] The 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.
READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 6:47 PM