Thurston Moore Tears It Up

Courtesy of Geffen Records

Thurston Moore is an indie veteran to say the least, maybe even more of an icon. Moore’s band, Sonic Youth, has been making albums since the early ’80s. With their experimental approach to instrumentation and unique blend of noise and rock, the group has been an undeniable influence to the underground alternative scene.

Four years after his last solo work, Moore has released his latest, “Demolished Thoughts.” As one of the major creative forces behind Sonic Youth, one can imagine that Moore’s solo projects are always interesting. And, with Beck Hansen producing the album, things could only get more intriguing.

“Demolished Thoughts” leaves behind the noise and belligerence of much of Moore’s prior work for a stripped down acoustic approach. Perhaps the most apt way to describe the album would be to compare it to the traditional Sonic Youth “sound,” with acoustic guitars and cellos. Combine that with a few pinches of folk and a healthy dose of ambient rock, and you have the unusual combination Moore created.

The album feels like it has Sonic Youth’s melodies and structures (to some degree), and even shares some of the same noise – produced by classical instruments this time. It is the same Thurston Moore, after all.

The difference, naturally, comes in the fact that the album is acoustic. Moore’s soft voice, along with bright guitars and a prominent use of orchestra, produces a sound that’s angelic in quality.

One of the best songs on the album, “Benediction” opens “Demolished Thoughts” with light acoustic strumming, over which violins and harps uplift the song into a heavenly stratum. Moore’s smooth vocal tone finishes the effect, and a fantastic soundscape is born. The ethereal quality can be found in much of the album.

Moore brought in a 12-string guitar for “In Silver Rain with a Paper Key,” which gives the song an extra folksy effect. And, the guitar’s shimmering tone adds to the serene backdrop created by the interplay of cello, harp and violin.

“Space” is, true to its name, a cosmic journey. Moore uses the orchestra to create some of the most immersive ambience on the record, over which his guitar and voice drive you along.

“Orchard Street” is another track with fantastic instrumentals. The string phrases over the guitar’s simple progression are some of the most striking on the album. Though simple, the effect in “Orchard Street” is great and representative of many of the subtle delights hidden throughout the album. From a bit of cascading harp in “January” to the Gregorian monk-esque vocals at the end of “Illuminine,” and even the cello and violin found on almost every song, “Demolished Thoughts” is simply filled with little moments of musical ecstasy.

Despite the beauty of the album, Moore’s taste for the aggressive and experimental still shines through at points.

“Mina Loy” is a haunting tune. From the get-go, the song is driven by tastefully dissonant harmonies and melodies among the instruments. Stripped down as it is, however, the track still maintains its delicate nature.

From the melodies to the phrasing to the riffs, “Circulation” sounds like it could be straight off a Sonic Youth record, save for the instrumentation. The song starts off at a faster tempo than most of the others, and moves into a more aggressive verse. Another high point on the album, “Circulation” will most definitely remind you you’re listening to Thurston Moore.

Perhaps one of the few critiques sure to be voiced about the record is that the songs, at least upon the initial listen, sound too similar. There is some truth to this.

Being mainly acoustic, the album is bound to have similar themes running throughout. However, the orchestral instruments used to add some flavor do a great job adding to the mood of each track. The repeated use of violins and cellos does occasionally make the tracks sound even more alike, but the issue is small.

Thurston Moore has again shown his creative abilities with “Demolished Thoughts” — like there was any need to, anyway.

With this album, Moore has further established that he is capable of far more than just noise exhibits. He is, at the most fundamental level, a true song writer. But, who really doubted that?

Ultimately, Moore makes music that is both interesting and satisfying to listen to. “Demolished Thoughts” is no exception. The songs are all graced by the inventive musician’s deft hand. Each one is either flowing with smooth melodies, has a refined amount of dissonance or both.

By all means, “Demolished Thoughts” is an experience that deserves a listen.

Rating: 5/5 Stars