Release Date: Feb 15, 2011
Record label: Sonic Youth Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Film Music
Firstly, I haven’t seen the film that the band are sound-tracking, nor do I know anything about it, so this is a voyage into the sonic world only. How this album rates as an auditory accompaniment to the visual world created in the film is not in question here, nor, it turns out, does it really need to be, as this album is a marvel in it’s own right. You realise what a deep and penetrating cut into the music world a band like Sonic Youth has made when they can construct even the meekest, smallest and fractured little sound with a guitar and it’s instantly recognisable as being them.
Once again displaying an uncanny ability to mix pop culture with the avant-garde, Sonic Youth conjure their earliest no wave days and their later experimental works on the soundtrack to the French teen thriller Simon Werner a Disparu. The film, which traces the mysterious disappearance of teenagers in a Paris suburb, is set in 1992, so it’s fitting to have one of the premier acts of the alternative rock era provide the music. Yet the atmospheres the band crafts recall EVOL and Daydream Nation rather than Goo or Dirty, especially on “Chez Yves (Alice et Clara)”'s swirling unease or “La Cabane au Zodiac,” a delicate piece reminiscent of “Shadow of a Doubt.
They finally got it right. Sonic Youth’s movie-scoring skills have been commissioned for a fourth time, in service of Fabrice Gobert’s Simon Werner a Disparu, which is, predictably enough, about missing teenagers in a bucolic French suburb. The first three—for Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia, Ken Friedman’s Made In U.S.A., and Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover—distilled what incidental music they could from their trademark art-rock squall, producing pretty much exactly what they were hired to make: dystopian mood music.
Sonic Youth long ago arrived at a point where their music no longer warrants serious criticism, having already secured their place of privilege in rock'n'roll Valhalla. Most of the critics that review Simon Werner a Disparu will have less years under their belt than Sonic Youth’s three decade career. So when the legendary group releases new material, the wisest course is to simply open your head, your heart, your ears, and ease off the snark-trigger.
Review Summary: Comme ci, comme ça. A long time ago, in a review far, far away, it was said that the worst thing to ever happen to Sonic Youth was when they first asked each other “Hey, should we let Kim sing one?” As it stands, Kim Gordon’s bandmate, fellow vocalist and husband Thurston Moore has never been in contention for singer of the year either. With their latest release, Simon Werner a Disparu, being an instrumental film score, it will come as a welcome surprise to those who enjoy the more experimental and meandering sounds the band produce instead of their usual vocal styling.
When Sonic Youth established their SYR imprint 14 years ago, the gesture symbolized something more than just a veteran act indulging their whims with a vanity label. It represented the point where the idea of Sonic Youth (as boundary-pushing, confrontational guitarrerorists) diverged sharply from their reality (as a steady recording and touring act performing their "120 Minutes"-minted "hits" for the alt-rock kids). And perhaps not coincidentally, the decision to launch SYR as a outlet through which to explore their more abstract ideas came shortly after Sonic Youth's first flirtation with Hollywood, having penned a handful of songs for the Richard Linklater/Eric Bogosian teen-angst document subUrbia.
A soundtrack that’s a powerful piece of art in its own right. Mike Diver 2011 While this release is marketed as the soundtrack to director Fabrice Gobert’s early 1990s-set, 2010-released high-school thriller of the same name – translated as "Simon Werner has Disappeared", but oddly titled Lights Out internationally – its 13 tracks aren’t exactly as they appeared beside the on-screen action. Rather than simply compile the shorter, scene-complementing cuts that they recorded after seeing Gobert’s initial rushes in the spring of last year, Sonic Youth – here with Jim O’Rourke aboard, albeit only for the closing Thème d’Alice – went back into the studio to rearrange their works.