The idea of a Thurston Moore acoustic album still seems to be a surprise to some people. And to some extent you can understand why given that Thurston has spent much of his musical career exploring noise to varying degrees.
Yet, there’s been plenty of evidence recently to identify this as a natural progression – the largely acoustic based last album ‘Trees Outside The Academy’ and even the increasing incidence of a ‘prettier’ side to his songwriting with Sonic Youth.
But no matter how much of the instrumentation was acoustic ‘Trees …’ undoubtedly relied to an extent on the limited use of electric guitar for its thrills. Since there’s no similar crutch on ‘Demolished Thoughts’ can Thurston find another way?
Well, partly. Despite the shift in instrumentation, there’s little evidence that this has dramatically affected Thurston’s songwriting. Just as in Sonic Youth lengthy instrumental passages feature heavily throughout the record, even if these tend toward the soothing rather than the discordant, such as on the likes of ‘Blood Never Lies’ and the lengthy ‘Space’. But Thurston hasn’t completely abandoned the distorted, with the extended finale of ‘Orchard Street’ building tension amongst the dissonance in a way very reminiscent of SY.
There’s some up tempo material too, ‘Circulation’ and ‘Mina Loy’ immediately spring to mind, and it’s not difficult to imagine these being amped up into modern Sonic Youth tunes. With no electric guitars, it’s left to the strings to add some of the more dramatic flourishes over the banks of acoustic guitars.
So ‘Demolished Thoughts’ is a brave if not entirely unprecedented record. Yet I’m left feeling in a similar way about ‘Demolished Thoughts’ as I did about some early Kristin Hersh acoustic records. Whilst each track works perfectly well on its own, taken together as an album I do feel that there’s just a little something lacking. Interesting but not always compelling.
The opening track from the record with a non-video:
Buy the LP here.