Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
Thurston Moore, the recently divorced Sonic Youth singer-guitarist, uses his new band to air some bathrobe-at-noon bitterness ("Sleeping Where I Fall," "Lip"). But he'd rather torture his guitar than himself or his ex – a good thing, since he can say far more with molten noise jags and spiraling, convulsive solos than he can with mind-clearing Beat poetry like the seven-minute "Mohawk." .
Chelsea Light Moving are a hip new beat combo featuring Samara Lubelski (The Sonora Pine, JOMF), Keith Wood (Hush Arbors), John Moloney (Sunburned Hand of the Man), and some bloke named Thurston Moore (The Bark Haze). Thurston Moore, in case you didn’t know, is the Quentin Tarantino of alt-rock (stick with me on this. .
The apparent end of Sonic Youth in 2011 after a 30-year career must have left a considerable void in the life of their leader and founder member Thurston Moore. Following the end of his marriage with long-time partner and band mate Kim Gordon, the band was placed on indefinite hiatus. There is no question that the loss of arguably the most important and enduring alt rock band of the contemporary era would leave a chasm, particularly in the US indie underground in which Sonic Youth were such an integral part.
Chelsea Light MovingChelsea Light Moving[Matador; 2013]By Joshua Pickard; March 22, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThurston Moore’s discography is nothing if not encyclopedic. The man has worked with and toured with just about every artist you can imagine and has drawn out practically every note and tone that a guitar can possibly make. And his music owes as much to traditionalists like John Fahey and Michael Hurley as it does to experimental artists like Jim O’Rourke and John Cage.
Thurston Moore is a bonafide genius. It doesn't take a crazy, insane lunatic-esque fanatic of every Sonic Youth release to know how smart and brilliant Moore has been in his three decades as an active musician. Whether it's making out with his now ex-wife in a music video or falling down and breaking his ass on live, national television, Thurston has always been a vital piece to the puzzle of contemporary indie music since his start in 1982.
Not a Sonic Youth record, but let’s say someone unfamiliar asks you anyway: Nirvana or no Nirvana, Sonic Youth might’ve flirted with grunge, but Chelsea Light Moving gives doom metal a sloppy kiss. Sonic Youth’s fewer punksplosions over time were still Kim Gordon ones, while Lee Ranaldo hung in there for melody and Thurston seesawed between the two, without showing off much to upset the balance. He rarely made declamatory statements like “We are the third eye of rock and roll”; you rarely got the sense that Sonic Youth’s characters were themselves.
For the first time in more than 30 years, Thurston Moore is moving forward in what could be a world without Sonic Youth. Sure, there were a few solo records, plenty of collaborations, and droves of oddball performances, but those always felt like icing on the SY cake. The promise of another Sonic Youth record has always hung over his head, but that might not be the case anymore.
After last year’s announcement of an indefinite break for Sonic Youth, it became a bit of a “waiting game” for what the group’s principal members would concentrate on. Lee Ranaldo released Between the Times and the Tides, a mellow, late Steve Wynn-inspired album on Matador (a departure from previous solo dates like 1993’s Scriptures of the Golden Eternity on Father Yod); Kim Gordon is active as an artist/writer; and drummer Steve Shelley has long freelanced, including recent work with Disappears and Samara Lubelski. Meanwhile, Thurston Moore has always worked outside of Sonic Youth in free-improvisation ensembles like Dream Aktion Unit (with drummer Chris Corsano, veteran saxophonist Paul Flaherty, and sometimes Jim O’Rourke) or alternately letting his indie-pop whims run wild.
It’s strange that when Sonic Youth went on an “indefinite hiatus” sometime near the end of 2011, no one seemed too interested in reappraising The Eternal, even though it may end up being their last album ever. Listening to it with fresh ears after its 2009 release, one gets the impression of a band going through a midlife crisis. After settling into a groove in the early 2000s with Murray Street, it seemed like The Eternal was a self-conscious attempt by Sonic Youth to start rocking again.
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon were the Posh and Becks of New York no-wave, the Brangelina of esoteric guitar tunings. Their split – and the consequent rupture of their band, Sonic Youth – surely made everyone who ever loved indie rock feel a little sad inside. But Thurston’s out to make it better. His new group’s debut is all slanted alt.rock chugs, spat-out beat poetry (‘Mohawk’) and songs about counterculture icons (‘Frank O’Hara Hit’, ‘Burroughs’).
The end of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore's 27-year marriage left Sonic Youth with an uncertain future, and the four compulsively creative members of the band lacking one of their largest outlets for sound. While none of the players had ever been short of side projects, news of the formation of Chelsea Light Moving seemed especially weighty. The first Thurston-fronted rock band in a similar mold as the recently filed away Sonic Youth could either fill the substantial void left by the legendary guitar mutilators or follow Moore's antagonistic noisy tendencies into messy, self-indulgent disappointment.
If you've been following Thurston Moore's career over the last several years, you might have gotten the impression that the Sonic Youth singer/guitarist was beginning to mellow out. Two recent solo efforts-- Trees Outside the Academy and Demolished Thoughts-- were relatively low-wattage affairs that were anchored by acoustic guitars and strings, rather than half-stacks and bashed-up electric guitars. Since then, Sonic Youth-- which has, for some 30 years, been the central outlet for Moore's screeching rock'n'roll id-- has drifted into an unofficial, maybe-permanent hiatus spurred by the guitarist's break-up with his wife and bandmate, Kim Gordon.
When Sonic Youth somewhat unexpectedly bowed out after 2009's The Eternal, Thurston Moore could have played out his next musical chapter with an unbound avalanche of esoteric collaborations and festival appearances. Instead, he resurfaced in 2011 with a lovely, Beck-produced solo album, Demolished Thoughts, and now with a new band of old friends who appear to have been listening to Sonic Youth. Chelsea Light Moving borrows most heavily from the golden era between Daydream Nation and Goo, with non-linear art rock tropes colliding with fuzzy guitar cudgels.
The news of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's split in late 2011 was a double hit. Indie rock lost not only its pre-eminent power couple, but also the enormously influential band they started together. But the members of Sonic Youth are all ultra-prolific musicians, so the breakup has actually meant more music from each of them, albeit in new formations.
30 years. That’s a long-time in anyone’s book, but in rock music it’s nigh-on an eternity, hence the feeling that there was something almost eternal about Sonic Youth (as the title of their last album proper, to date, reflected). However, following the quiet break-up of the band’s core-relationship, their future remains pretty shaky, and in turn it could be said that never before has a Thurston Moore solo-record had come lumbered with such a weight of anticipation.
Sonic Youth mourners will welcome the debut from Chelsea Light Moving, the latest from Thurston Moore. Liberation and noisy calibration still drive the on-hiatus Youth. Flexing old-school muscle, the post-punk guitar god and underrated wordsmith name-checks junky beatnik William S. Burroughs and the late poet Frank O'Hara, but never resorts to recriminations against his ex-wife.
Recognize the names, “Reena”, “Sacred Trickster”? How about, “Teenage Riot”? These are either foreign entities and don’t concern your musical palate vocabulary whatsoever, or perhaps they excite enormously and spark the very madness of why you started listening to music in the first place. They are of course, “the hits”, if you will, for the late 80’s phenoms and still widely popular indie gods, Sonic Youth. Even if Sonic Youth is teetering between 2 and 3 on your top ten lists, it’s not important now considering this article is about the band, Chelsea Light Moving.
It’s hard not to by won over by Thurston Moore’s eternal teenager energy. David Sheppard 2013 Named after the turn-of-the-70s Manhattan removal company run by nascent composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Chelsea Light Moving is the latest combo venture from preternaturally youthful, 54-year-old Sonic Youth leader Thurston Moore. With the day job band on an indefinite sabbatical after the break-up of Moore and bassist Kim Gordon’s marriage, CLM’s debut is not exactly a ‘free again’ midlife crisis record.
Last time we spent some quality time with a Thurston Moore record, he’d toned down the ferocity of his idiosyncratic, fractured melodies. The cacophonous battlefields of yore settled into the more reflective textures of Demolished Thoughts: where guitars previously roared like cyclones, they were gently plucked over the soft, rain-like pitter-patter of lightly-brushed drums. Even the terminal detachment of his hipster drawl seemed more human than usual, as though in the process of being melted by the gentle warmth of the music.
Everybody was surprised when Thurston Moore announced he was to eschew Sonic Youth for his own removal company (with black metal supergroup on the side). What’s less surprising is that he’s not particularly good at it. Why, on Chelsea Light Moving’s first job, they’ve loaded up their Transit van with Moore’s musical furniture - from the accessible latter-day Youth albums like ‘Rather Ripped’, to the entirely discordant noise of the ‘SYR’ series, along with some remainders of his quieter solo albums - and in transporting them to their new home, they’ve toppled over, broken and smashed in to each other.