Thurston Moore is a bonafide genius. It doesn’t take a crazy, insane lunatic-esque fanatic of every Sonic Youth release to know how smart and brilliant Moore has been in his three decades as an active musician. Whether it’s making out with his now ex-wife in a music video or falling down and breaking his ass on live, national television, Thurston has always been a vital piece to the puzzle of contemporary indie music since his start in 1982.
But, as Sonic Youth as dissolved into this festering, annoying cancer on the back of everyone’s minds, Moore found other things to do. Chelsea Light Moving, a band that has released three songs for free (prior to this release) and… that’s it. This relatively new band seems to fit right in with the old of what we expect from Moore – noise guitars in strange, warbling tunings, fast paced rhythms, and Beat generation-influenced lyrics. But this new project adds a defining element – dissonant loathing. Anger and resentment bleed from every note and orifice of this body of ten songs.
From the start, “Heavenmetal” worms around and Moore opens his mouth and clearly delivers the vocals, treating this intro differently vocally, with an honest tone. “This has everything to do with you,” Moore belts out. Moore’s lyrics on this album are very protruding and noticeable, but never too personal. His vocals range from speaking, like on “Sleeping Where I Fall” or exasperated, quick jabs on “Lip” and “Communist Eyes.”
Guitars are a definite characteristic of this album, and there’s lots of them. Take “Alighted,” for example. Starting off with a slow melody, the song turns into a devilish monster with the unsettling, jangly noise that emits from Moore’s guitar. Then the song dives into a noise metal-extravaganza, exploding with chugging rhythm and unraveling at the seams. Moore and co. do not allow words to accompany these fits of intense rage. At nearly three minutes in, the track takes the exact riff and de-distorts it, so Moore can say “he came to get alighted/divided/wasted.”
“Burroughs” is a standout track, blasting from the get-go. Launching from an already speedy take-off, the song releases into an addictive riff and Moore quizzes William S. Burroughs, the writer of the masterpiece Naked Lunch, about his drug habits. With jarring guitars that seem to meld together out of spite, Moore lashes out a rare chant, which leads on to an eventual jam session where guitars sound more abrasive and percussive than before, with a distinct ringing in the later parts. “Empires of Time” definitely also fits in this very same category of insane, scratchy
“Groovy & Linda” struts and takes its time. One of the less speedy, “Groovy & Linda” warns “Don’t shoot. We are yr children.” This song definitely drifts off into Obscurity Heaven, then jolts right back with incendiary guitar. Other tracks like “Frank O’Hara Hit” and “Mohawk” snail their way into your mind and tell grand stories. While “Frank O’Hara Hit” is nearly biographical, “Mohawk” is a poem. With its strange post-rock/ambient/noise combination, it is the strangest track on this album. It stretches for nearly seven minutes, not really moving anywhere from the start.
Chelsea Light Moving’s self-titled debut is the one of the best recordings Thurston Moore has been a part of for years. This is the best mix of various recordings Moore has done since A Thousand Leaves. The album is definitely an avalanche of emotions – Moore’s pent up rage, and he’s not a rat in a cage. He’s a genius, still making great music at age 54. And there’s nobody in this world quite like Thurston Moore.