"Moore has pared back the noise to create a considered, somewhat folksy album, one that is still underpinned by a juddering white and his trademark choppy guitar runs. "
Thurston Moore – Trees Outside the Academy
Ah Thurston, what have you got in store for us now? Well if you enjoyed his recent outing with outrageous Italian glam-noise duo My Cat is an Alien, then you're in for a shock. Moore has pared back the noise to create a considered, somewhat folksy album, one that is still underpinned by a juddering white noise and his trademark choppy guitar runs. The opening track Frozen GTR is - in all respects - an excellent precis of the LP as a whole. Once the screech of guitar (or is it viola?) feedback abates, a slow and menacing melody is laid down, punctuated intermittently by a growling guitar and viola parts. It's very reminiscent of the quieter moments of Daydream Nation... in some ways I find this LP a sort of Daydream reminiscence.... But maybe that's just me.
The opener is about as loud as it gets (save for the brilliant instrumental title track, but that comes much later). For the most part it is reflective songs like The Shape is In a Trance that dominate; Thurston's vocals are muted, almost husky at times. It's as if he's really working hard to hold himself in check. There are some truly beautiful songs, it's not all stripped down NYC cool... Honest James is a great guitar work out with a wonderfully plaintive double vocal. Silver > Blue is in the same acoustic vein, at moments getting close to Duritti Column or Bert Jansch territory... Favourite "soft" song is definitely Fri/end which has a lovely chorus and gets quite elegiac.
Now and again we get glimpses of an earlier, more experimental Sonic Youth (as on American Coffin) and just now and again things rock out to very satisfying effect, as on Wonderful Witches and the magnificent Off Work.
The LP ends with Thurston @ 13, a tape recording full of humour, frustration and intelligence; which in some ways is as revealing as anything as to what makes the great man tick musically.
Stone classic stuff.
Words: Richard Foster