After Sonic Youth co-founders and First Couple of Noise Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon ended their 27-year marriage in 2011, the band understandably went on indefinite hiatus, meaning there’s a very real possibility we’ll never hear songs like “Incinerate” and “Teen Age Riot” in concert again.
There’s an upside, though. Without the Sonic Youth name attached, you can now see Moore — one of the best and most influential indie/punk/etc. guitarists alive — in a small rock club like Ace of Cups.
After Moore’s understated and surprisingly pretty 2011 solo release, Demolished Thoughts, it was hard to predict whether his noisy days were done or if he’d ante up again in a real-deal rock band. Chelsea Light Moving’s self-titled debut released earlier this year proved he’s ready to go all in. The record features some of the same players from Moore’s tamer releases, but this new band hearkens to Sonic Youth’s earlier, more aggressive sound.
In Chelsea Light Moving, feedback is a friend. And in a live setting, the music is even heavier, said drummer John Moloney.
“Chelsea Light Moving is a live band, not a studio band,” he said.
Moloney, who also plays in the duo Caught on Tape alongside Moore and is a founding member of Boston’s Sunburned Hand of the Man, said Chelsea Light Moving is merely the sound of four artists having a good time. Moore, Moloney, guitarist Keith Wood and bassist Samara Lubelski recorded the album live with minimal overdubs and no more than four takes per song. All the songs came out of jamming together, Moloney said.
In Chelsea Light Moving — named after a moving company started by experimental composer Phillip Glass that also employed Steve Reich — Moore walks the same tightrope of art-rock and alt-rock, and he’s still not afraid to ditch the balance pole altogether and send his band careening in either direction. While leadoff track “heavenmetal” is hummable all the way through, “Frank O’Hara Hit,” which Moloney said came together the day before recording, diverges into dissonance loudly and often.
No matter the trajectory, playing in Chelsea Light Moving is “a joyful release,” Moloney said. “It’s like a party.”
Photo by Carlos van Hijfte