Sonic Youth “The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities” Review
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Album Reviews, Music.
Moments into “Fire Engine Dream,” an outtake from the Sonic Nurse sessions in 2003, Sonic Youth begins to deliver an almost encyclopedic, note for note, version of themselves; a noisy, brash Sonic Youth reminiscent to a version of Public Image Limited lacking the electronics and boasting heavier emphasis on crass audible devolution. Surprisingly are the similarities to Lydon’s former self through developing tracks such as the hazily electronic “Campfire” and the rolling “Loop Cat.” But it is with that first moment of the first song that Sonic Youth instantaneously reiterates why the term art punk means what it does in today’s musical landscape. Much of art punk, let alone punk, is what it is because of the band, and for the better part of eighty minutes the band displays why exactly that is.
Two songs and roughly fifteen minutes into the collection the listener is graced with the whimpering vocals of Kim Gordon on “Razor Blade,” a b-side to the “Bull in Heather” single. The short acoustic track is the lone oddity, if such an album from such a band were to have an oddity. It lasts just a minute and doesn’t screech, hum or reverberate, but rather fills an artistic void created by the band indifference with musical confines. It is with that kind of brilliant self examination that the album redeems itself as necessary and before long the band crawls back into its safety zone of noise, where it stays for the remainder of The Destroyed Room.
The capstone to the set is a twenty six minute version of “The Diamond Sea,” a track that solidifies any misconceptions one might have about the band in this stage of its career. After a year in which the group released its most celebrated success in recent memory, accompanying Rather Ripped with a strong tour, “The Diamond Sea” is, in a way, like listening to the ending credits to an epic film. Thurston Moore’s initial lyrics boast a defining statement to a career while divulging as little information as possible, “Time takes its crazy toll and how does your mirror grow.” If anyone were to suggest that the groups self image hasn’t solidified since its beginning they should be condemned a fool. Time has taken a toll on the band, and through the course of an obscene number of releases, a lapse into and out of mainstream popularity and a relationship unwavering, Sonic Youth and its listener stand the better for it.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]