With his new band Thurston Moore delivers a sludgier and much looser back-to-basics take on the Sonic Youth template.
After years of very deliberately trying to keep his extracurricular projects from sounding too much like Sonic youth, Thurston Moore can finally embrace that sound now that his former band is no more. There's no mistaking that Chelsea Light Moving is fronted by the key architect of Sonic Youth, but rather than sounding like a retread of what that band had already done, this sounds like a peek at what that band might have become.
The weirdly tuned dissonant guitar riffing is here along with Thruston's half spoken vocal poetry and the occasional enthusiastic yelping. But CLM are much looser than Sonic Youth ever were. It's not quite in-studio improv, but the songs lack conventional structure (even by modern SY standards) in favor of grabbing hold of a riff and riding it out. My original complaint with the album was that there was too much dicking around, but I've warmed up to free-from casualness that makes it feel a bit like a noisy postpunk prog album. Occasionally they edge close to self-indulgent jamming, like one of Greg Ginn's many SST projects, but they never actually cross that line.
Thurston's new guitar foil comes in the form of Keith Wood of Hush Arbors, who brings a muddier guitar sound rather than trying to emulate Lee Ranaldo's precision. Much of the album is heavier than anything Moore has tackled in the past, at times veering into the sludgy territory of Mudhoney or Melvins. Chelsea Light Moving isn't a great album, but it's solid enough to merit repeated listens and could be the start of a great new chapter in Moore's career. I take it as a good sign that my pick for favorite song on the album keeps shifting as I hear new things or listen in different moods.