By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Had middle age come this quickly?
Carefully, with the reverence of the collector, all seventeen preceding Sonic Youth albums were removed from the shelf and played through, in sequence and in their entirety. And in the hermetically sealed world of headphones set on stun, where time is measured in the melting of one track into the next and the only thing that matters is the song that is battering your head at this very moment, 23 years were relived over the course of a long weekend.
Personal favorites and minor classics and songs tolerated solely because they were sandwiched between the former became new again when experienced in this continuum. An output that once seemed demarcated by phases of growth or regression or stasis now seemed strangely transparent; there were no abrupt shifts in tone or method, only constant motion. The music always moves, and the horizon always seems to be just out of reach.
Then Sonic Nurse, number eighteen in the series, slipped into being, pushing up against Murray Street's haunches. Steve Shelley continued to propel things with syncopated twitches and thuds; Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo stoked huge gouts of magnetic resonance off into the night; Jim O'Rourke limned it all with a skeletal fringe of hiss and blur; Kim Gordon cooed and sighed and shouted the blank verse. It could have been the pulsing beauty of "I Dreamed I Dream" or the wobbly shimmer of "Schizophrenia" or the bottle rockets-under-water pop of "Sweet Shine" or the elegiac drone of "Diamond Sea." It was always going to be Sonic Youth, and it was always going to be worth it.