Release Date: Mar 18, 2016
Record label: Burger Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock
Who is Alex Knost and how did he end up in a band with Kim Gordon? Among the many questions raised by Glitterbust—the debut noise guitar record from this California duo—the most pressing one is also, at least partially, the easiest to parse using Google. Knost is a 31-year-old pro surfer from Costa Mesa, Calif. "I thought surfing was cool because it was an art form and a subculture," Knost once told an interviewer, and he has referred to his single-fin longboard as an art piece itself.
With each of her post-Sonic Youth projects, Kim Gordon has explored different sides of her music. As one half of Glitterbust, her collaboration with Tomorrows Tulips' Alex Knost, she once again touches on elements from her past that feel genuine but not overly familiar. On the duo's self-titled debut, Glitterbust takes a more insular, vulnerable approach than Body/Head did on Coming Apart; as powerful as that album was, its mix of detachment and aggression felt more expected from Gordon.
Kim Gordon has pulled from her rich back catalogue of experimental guitar coups as co-founder of Sonic Youth before now. Namely, her other noise rock two-piece project, Body/Head, embodied the New York underground stalwart's famed free spirit and effect-pedal indulgence on their 2013 debut Coming Apart to critical acclaim. On her out-of-nowhere collaboration with Tomorrow Tulips' Alex Knost, the echoes of Sonic Youth are more akin to Daydream Nation than Confusion is Sex; in fact, the renowned pre-chorus of "Teenage Riot" is all but lifted straight on to penultimate cut "The Highline." .
Back in college, I had a friend who insisted that anyone could be Sonic Youth — at the very least in their SYR recordings. For those not in the know, the legendary guitar rock outfit released a handful of records under their own label; typically esoteric, experimental, noisy affairs, these are deep cuts of their already deep catalog. “Just lean some guitars against amps and call it a day,” he’d say, ignoring my adamant denials.
When we affix an “outsider” descriptor to some aspect of culture, we’re really saying that thing is undervalued, underappreciated, or under the radar — and the more open and accessible culture becomes, the easier it is to overlook the strange and unusual. What is popular (usually) dominates attention, and everything that isn’t universally accessible melts away to the margins. Yet marginalized never equates to nonexistent, and for many, the margins are where it’s at.
Perhaps you’ve seen this type of performance at your local noise-improv open-mic night: someone plugs in a guitar and goes deedle-deedle-dee on some high notes for a bit before stomping on their Boss DS-1 and letting an open E chord ring out in all its major-key menace. That’s basically what Glitterbust sound like (and you can hear this very manoeuvre on penultimate track The Highline). The difference is that Kim Gordon pretty much invented this brand of salon/gallery noise six-string improv, and her ability to inhabit a performance is unparalleled.