Thurston Moore - We Sing A New Language by Nick Soulsby

by D R Pautsch Rating: Release Date:

Sonic Youth are no more. They are gone, buried but far from forgotten.  Their legacy is long since known but the raking over their demise has been messy at best.  Has this tainted the music at all?  Hopefully not.  However, it most definitely has tarnished Thurston Moore. Kim Gordon’s autobiography and her subsequent interviews have cast Thurston as the villain of the peace, hardly a word has been said to the contrary. This book addresses none of that, however there is a nagging doubt that it is trying to in a different way. This is no autobiography, there is nothing about Sonic Youth at all and Thurston is rarely directly quoted. However, what it does chronicle are the various side projects that he has worked on over the years. These range from fully fledged solo work and bands to the offering up of music to others to do with what they will. Do we learn much from this? Absolutely. Is it a riveting read, it depends.

Most of the work here you probably haven’t heard of before so when they go into details about the genesis and recording of the music, some of which is quite rare so you’ll be lucky to find it, you don’t have much to reference. You just marvel at the prolific nature of the man and how he seems to be so interested in music.  An avid music collector he explores his rock, jazz, experimental, acoustic, spoken word and improvisational sides and many more throughout the examples mentioned here. Not a single person says a bad word about him either, they describe him as generous at all times.  Some of the work described here just sounds like noise, almost a primal scream of guitar against the various subject matter.  Others the melody is there for all to hear. However, much of this isn’t about the music as such, it’s about the creation of it and the collaborations and how they came about.  Moore appears, from this book at least, to have a just say yes attitude.  There are numerous examples of him just agreeing to offer work or time to a small band and them being surprised.  The book gives an insight into how we works in such an open way.  Although one quote, from Richard Kern, for whom Moore provided a soundtrack, elicits a bit of a clue as to how Moore is so prolific.  Kern used the work Moore gave him but listening to his later recorded work he heard echoes and indeed some of the same work within that.  It seems Moore is just working through the creative process in a live way.

As to the book itself it's readable but unless you are completely fascinated by the man himself or the creative process you may find yourself switching off.  It is illuminating of the man himself too, however, it all smacks a little bit too much of the rehabilitation of Moore in the public eye.  There is too much here that is overflowing in its positivity.  You could almost be cynical of the book and question if the whole point of the exercise is to start putting him back in a positive light.  If you ignore that then this book shows what a thoughtful, creative and generous man Moore is.  It also serves as a jumping off point for so much other work.  You might just find new music through reading this or just a deeper respect of the man himself.  Both of which are almost certainly the intentions

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