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Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy

  by Mark Rowland

published: 9 / 10 / 2007

Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy
Label: Ecstatic Peace
Format: CD


Surprisingly acoustic, but impressive solo record from Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, which contains only the merest hint of the discordant feedback that he is renowned for

For 27 years, Thurston Moore has been pushing rock’s boundaries to its limits with his band Sonic Youth, treading a fine line between the accessible and experimental. Considering that Moore’a music has always been about exploring the sonic capabilities of the electric guitar and recently put together a line-up for ATP that consisted mainly of abstract improv music, it is surprising that his new solo record, ‘Trees Outside the Academy’ is a collection of acoustic, melodic songs, with only the merest hint of discordant feedback. ‘Trees Outside the Academy’ has a distinctly laid-back, autumnal feel to it, similar to Neil Young’s acoustic work. That’s not to say that there is no sign of the Sonic Youth sound on the album; the guitar parts and melodies often bring to mind the Youth’s sweeter moments, particularly on ‘Silver>Blue’, which features a gently dissonant instrumental section. Opener ‘Frozen Gtr’ sets the tone for the record, fairly loose but tense, like the Velvet Underground covering a song from Young’s ‘Harvest’. This is followed by the ‘Shape is in a Trance’, which sounds like a cross between Sonic Youth and REM. The feedback on the album appears at the beginning of ‘Fri/End’ before it becomes an upbeat indie pop song. ‘American Coffin’ is much more experimental, featuring clanging guitar noise and wonky, melancholic piano. ‘Wonderful Witches’ is much closer to Sonic Youth’s usual fare, featuring more prominent electric guitar and a distinctive solo from Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who provides solos throughout the album. ‘Off Work’ continues in a similar vein, with electric and acoustic guitars battling for dominance, given an elegance by sweeping strings. The last two songs on the album, ‘Never Light’ and the title track, are split by two non-musical tracks. The first ‘Free Noise Among Friends’ is unsurprisingly a minute of free noise, while one can only assume that ‘Thurston@13’ is also exactly that.

Track Listing:-
1 Frozen Gtr
2 The Shape Is In a Trance
3 Honest James
4 Silver>Blue
5 Fri/End
6 American Coffin
7 Wonderful Witches
8 Off Work
9 Never Light
10 Free Noise Among Friends
11 Trees Outside the Academy
12 Thurston @ 13

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