Album Review: Thurston Moore: Rock ‘N Roll Consciousness

by Oliver Brink on April 27, 2017

New sonic explorations from one of the masters

While I’m familiar with most of the seminal works of Sonic Youth, the band members’ solo projects before and after the split were never very big blips on my music radar. I vaguely remember seeing a poster for one of Thurston Moore’s mid-2000s solo tours when I was in college, but not having the time—or the money being a working college student—to go to the show. So out slipped Moore from my consciousness, and thus the boomerang effect brings him back to me.

Aptly titled, Rock ‘N Roll Consciousness is a sonic stream of melodies and noise. The songs are epic in length—5 tracks clocking in at 43 minutes—seeping into the brain stem through the auditory canals that we call ears, where they vibrate and resonate to create a darkly blissful world. His use of multi tracked patterns and melodies in the opening track, “Exalted,” weave together in a hypnotic quality, creating a tone for the world that Moore is creating, and beckoning us to get lost in it.

It’s no surprise that his lyrics are cryptic and vague, but there is a current of sonic metaphor present in them, as he references instruments, vibrations, and other sonic inducing themes. In this world, music feels deeply spiritual, and the act of listening and playing takes on a ritualistic meaning. In sharp contrast to most sonically experimental groups of the modern age, Moore sticks to Sonic Youth’s aesthetic of creating his waves of sound via guitars, drums, and bass.  You won’t find any synth transforming pedals in play here, which feels like a conscious effort to further write a love letter to rock ‘n’ roll.

The album’s tunes have a very warm quality to them, even when engaging in minor chords and dissonant melodies. They wash over you like the warm water of a pleasant bath. Even in its most aggressively distorted moments there is a cleanliness and inviting quality to the songs. It’s strangely relaxing. The pieces of each song groove in and out of each other so well that he makes it seem effortless.

The closing tune, “Aphrodite,” may be the most aggressive track on the album and certainly brings Sonic Youth to mind the most, but it still fits in tonally. It closes the album thoroughly from the very contemplative hypnosis with a jarring and noisy explosion of screeching and bending guitars, all set to a pulsing back-beat and repetitive bass pattern, before repeating its opening harmonic and guiding us back to a realm. Sonically it captures the intensity of love and lust and the breakdown that often follows. It’s this kind of songwriting that makes for such an enjoyable experience. Is it rife with catchy lyrics and pop laden hooks? Hell no! And thank goodness for that!

Rock N Roll Consciousness is in stores and online on April 28th

Oliver Brink

Oliver is a lover of film, music, theatre, and art. He writes and works out of Los Angeles.

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