Thurston Moore Builds Upon Sonic Youth’s Strongest Passages On ‘Rock N Roll Consciousness’


In an interview with Salon a few years ago, Thurston Moore stated:

“What I do as a songwriter, sitting alone with my guitar writing a song, it’s going to come out a certain way and sound a certain way. And I’m not going to try to change that just so it’s not recognizable. In a way it should be recognizable, but it’s certainly not new.”

Fans know what they are in for with Rock N Roll Consciousness. Extended melodic workouts complete with atonal clangs, feedback splashes, poetic images. An upbeat rocker or two and ringing experimentation that make you think of his stellar former band, but this current outfits intuitive interplay is eye and ear opening.    

Keeping together the same foursome from 2014’s The Best Day finds Steve Shelley on drums, Deb Googe on bass and James Sedwards manning second guitar. The group has clearly gelled, going above and beyond that release; Moore knows who he is, who his bandmates are and what sounds lively when they play together.

That is evident from the first notes of “Exalted”, a twelve-minute workout that recalls past expansive glories. It sweetly takes an eternity to unfold with an 8-minute intro that is repetitive via bright guitar passages. When the poetic female-positive lyrics kick in (written by Moore’s poet friend Radieux Radio concerning oracles and true loves) the drama has evolved and the song takes shape only to drift away again into languid guitar driven motifs.

“Cusp” follows and immediately grounds things as Shelley takes the lead with his propulsive snare work. These are certainly “magic drums” with wonderous vibrations building around layers of feedback for a pumping ride. The disk closing “Aphrodite” also pushes the outstanding rhythm work to the forefront showcasing a voluptuous bass line from Googe; the complete song snakes in a sultry manner. Moore and Sedwards contribute warbling lead guitar movements around co-lyricist Radio’s sensual words, closing the disk powerfully.

“Smoke of Dreams” is the only non-standout track, but it still works admirably as a mid-tempo ode to current day New York City, complete with slow burning guitar solo and would rate higher if the songs around it weren’t so damn strong. “Turn On” is a monster that runs over ten minutes through passages of six string beauty and disenchanted nightmares. It places you on the edge of a great precipice; look up and become amazed by the heavens, but peer down and fear the plunge. It is a wandering, shrouded path that becomes more and more exhilarating with each spin.

Moore’s muse may take him elsewhere next time around but it is obvious that the more this band plays, the more fluid and locked in they become. Rock N Roll Consciousness does not want you to forget Sonic Youth, it only wants you to appreciate the beauty Thurston Moore and company can conjure now.   

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