Chelsea Light Moving - Chelsea Light Moving - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Chelsea Light Moving - Chelsea Light Moving

by Daryl Worthington Rating:8 Release Date:2013-03-04

Thurston Moore doesn't need introducing. The founder of Sonic Youth has been at the forefront of underground and experimental music for longer than I've been alive. His work is spectacular in its diversity, from the band that he's synonymous with to free-jazz improvisation, publishing poetry collections to writing books on how to create the perfect mixtape - the list of his achievements is frankly too extensive to even scratch the surface of here.

So let's focus on this, his latest project, Chelsea Light Moving. The band is a four-piece of Moore, the violin player from his last two solo records, Samara Lubelski, drummer John Moloney, and Keith Wood from Hush Arbors. The press release describes Moore as playing "over-amped hyper-electric guitar" and Lubelski as playing "deep psyche-pop-metal bass guitar". This gives a good idea of what to expect.

Opening track 'Heavenmetal' is somewhat misleading as an introduction. Its lazily strummed electric guitar and Moore's drunk sounding vocals are reminiscent of Neil Young's Tonight's the Night album, breathing intoxicated despair. Of course, this is Thurston Moore singing. His lyrics are not as explicit or direct as Young's. Rather, we get a stream-of-consciousness drawl, revolving around the chorus of "Be a warrior - love life". The lyrics on the whole album almost have a Gertrude Stein quality to them: Associations of words, not forming a coherent narrative, but the tone and meaning always clear.

The album is a constant run of sharp twists and turns. 'Sleeping Where I Fall' opens with clean, tightly strummed guitar chords which wouldn't sound massively out of place on Sonic Nurse. This doesn't last long. The track quickly launches into chugging, mighty riff. By the middle, there's a squeal of guitar feedback that sounds like I'd imagine a jet engine would sound when there's something drastically wrong with it.

The massive riffs return with 'Alighted'. The track starts with deranged-sounding guitar strums, before launching full-throttle into a dirty, sludgy, ferocious guitar-drums-and-bass work-out. It then wanders through these sharp changes in dynamics and riffs for a full three minutes, before the vocals enter - completely unexpectedly. The most surprising thing about this song is that it's a 'song', not just a riff-out.

Although it doesn't particularly sound like them, Chelsea Light Moving could be viewed as coming from a similar situation as Grinderman. A group of alternative musicians, well established, releasing something dirty, fun, which sounds like it's a great stress-release to be involved in away from the constraints of their 'day jobs'. 'Burroughs' has a group shout-along, and a frantic middle-section which sounds like it's constantly on the verge of falling apart, and a rawness, like the track's being recorded as it is being written. 'Lip' and 'Communist Eyes' have a chugging, deranged energy to them, a purity which sounds like they could be The Stooges at their most aggressive.

There are moments on this album that do have similarities to the last few Sonic Youth albums, which really is inevitable considering the common factor between both bands. However, as always with Moore's work, it has its own identity. Although 'Heavenmetal' sounds quite distinct from the rest of the album, the comparison to Tonight's the Night and Gertrude Stein is applicable all the way through. Sonic Youth songs always sound meticulously arranged, even the noisey sections somehow feeling structured. Chelsea Light Moving sound freer, like a sudden burst of creative energy quickly captured and put to tape.

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