Thurston Moore Lays Out Visceral Imprint Via Instrumental LP ‘Screen Time’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Vera Marmelo

Throughout their career, Sonic Youth would release major label noise-rock offerings for the alternative masses and then indulge their more avant-garde side with smaller projects that explored mostly noise/instrumental ideals on their own label. Thurston Moore has continued this trend with his solo work, albums like Rock N Roll Consciousness and By The Fire were both followed by experimental works like Spirit Counsel and now Screen Time.

This subdued instrumental full length consists of various strings plucking as more layers get added/shifted/phased via Moore’s guitar and production effects. The first three tracks all have the same motif with clanging unsettling strings getting grated at various rates of irritation. “The Station” begins with the most angular sounds. “The Town” is still unsettling but also introduces swelling chimes while “The Home” delivers tense twinkling with success.

“The View” shifts gears and the result is the best of the instrumental offerings presented on Screen Time. The chilled-out, nuanced vibe creates a gorgeous cinematic scope with delicate playing and vibrating essence. Offerings like this prove Moore’s guitar adventures are treasures when the stars align. 

Most of the songs however fit the opening trios clanging, experimental string formula and offer little in way of nuance. Tracks like the vibrating “The Upstairs” and minimalist “The Dream” run too long, never delivering much direction. Closer “The Realization” attempts to sum everything up with repeating scratches, loops and chimes; while meatier than what has come before, it never illuminates fully.  

As a whole Screen Time is a curious listen/mood piece, the outings are all semi-interesting but (like the album as a whole) remain one note in tone, leaving a minimal visceral imprint. Screen Time’s sketches and atonal guitar jazz wanderings have moments, just not enough, however, with Moore, all guitar phases and releases are worth checking in on.   

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