It’s hard not to by won over by Thurston Moore’s eternal teenager energy.
David Sheppard 2013
Named after the turn-of-the-70s Manhattan removal company run by nascent composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Chelsea Light Moving is the latest combo venture from preternaturally youthful, 54-year-old Sonic Youth leader Thurston Moore.
With the day job band on an indefinite sabbatical after the break-up of Moore and bassist Kim Gordon’s marriage, CLM’s debut is not exactly a ‘free again’ midlife crisis record.
But there’s certainly a noisy, carefree, back-to-basics spirit about it that’s a million miles from the Nick Drake-inspired, Beck-produced introspection of Moore’s last solo outing, 2011’s Demolished Thoughts.
Abetted by Hush Arbors guitarist Keith Wood, sometime Jackie-O Motherf***er/Sonora Pine violinist/guitarist Samara Lubelski on bass and intimidating Sunburned Hand of the Man/Pegasus drummer John Moloney, CLM proffer a litany of, by turns, chiming and dissonant art-rock vehicles in the by now grand East Coast tradition.
It’s all overlain with Moore’s signature dissolute yelp of a vocal. Think of a more succinct version of Sonic Youth circa Murray Street and you’re close.
Opener Heavenmetal ushers in the CLM world languidly. Its stoned, slow-tempo rhythm and lattice of interleaved electric guitars sound like Television on diazepam, while Moore’s ingeniously delivered “Be a warrior / Love life” chorus might be a credo for the whole CLM enterprise.
The contrastingly febrile Sleeping Where I Fall ratchets up the obtuseness quotient. Its dissonant post-punk guitars collide like blunted razors over a clattering junkshop explosion of drums, while Moore unleashes a miscellany of eccentric vocal tics. The whole thing sounds not unlike Pere Ubu in their Dub Housing pomp.
Elsewhere, Alighted summons the twitching, glinting ghost of Richard Hell’s Voidoids, but slowed to a narcotic crawl. Burroughs, an unabashed, shoot-up referencing homage to the late Junky author, is a jarring exercise in hardcore thrash at various speeds. It may have been a mite more fun to record than it is to consume.
Such moments of wilfulness notwithstanding, it’s hard not to by won over, once again, by Moore’s indomitable, eternal teenager energy.