Sonic Youth: Entry/Exit/Entry Album Review


“I want to tour with Phish,” declared Thurston Moore, guitarist for Sonic Youth, in 1998. “The kind of music we make is more in tune with their aesthetic than with any K-Rock or Geffen’s rock aesthetic. So it’s only fair to us and to this audience. We deserve each other. His fellow guitarist Lee Ranaldo later claims that Moore “probably never even heard of Phish… Ninety percent of that is just bullshit.” But Moore was right. Sonic Youth has always had a penchant for long improvisational songs, from their title track start‘s “The Good and the Bad” at EVOLit’s “Xpressway to Yr Skull” at Washing machineit’s “Diamond Sea”. If there was a place for this kind of rock experimentation in the mainstream, it was what Moore called “the arena where [Grateful] Dead created, and Phish bit. We want to enter.

Sonic Youth never really entered this circuit, but the posthumous, almost entirely instrumental Entry/Exit/Entry shows that the New York band is a spiritual kin to the post-Dead tradition that has held remarkably stable since the 1990s. Taken from various recordings made between 2000 and 2010, the five tracks here could be called “jams,” although Ranaldo (a longtime attorney dead fan) recently opposed them, preferring to call them “extrapolations”. That’s right, since these sometimes repetitive pieces, often without a solo, owe more to the driving guitar symphonies of Glenn Branca than to the more spacious excursions of the Dead.

Yet these songs revel in their freedom, and the first decade of the millennium was a particularly free time for Sonic Youth. They settled into their Geffen contract, without too much pressure to score hits; they owned a studio, Echo Canyon, built with Lollapalooza headliner money, so they could record everything they played; and they ran their own label, RSY, through which they could release music that might not be suitable for major label albums. All of this not only explains why the tracks on Entry/Exit/Entry exist at all, but also why they sound so cohesive together despite being recorded in different years, places and situations. Having room to explore – or just do whatever they wanted – helped Sonic Youth deepen their distinctive sound.

Therefore, the floating “In & Out” hummed by Kim Gordon, recorded in 2010 during a soundcheck in California and in the band’s studio in New Jersey, sounds like a dream version of the most nightmarish “Out & In”. , recorded a decade earlier at Echo. Canyon. (Both tracks appeared on Three Lobed’s 2010 compilation Not the spaces you know, but between them, which I wrote liner notes for.) In turn, “Machine”, a 2009 release the Lordplays like a condensed version of “Out & In,” with Ranaldo and Moore’s choppy chords hitting drummer Steve Shelley’s beats as if dodging traffic. Entry/Exit/EntryThe best track is opener “Basement Contender,” an escalating journey reminiscent of the best Velvet Underground snippets, and – arguably because it was made at Moore and Gordon’s in Massachusetts – exudes a gaming vibe. happy with no other goal than to play happily.

In fact, a large part of Entry/Exit/EntryThe charm comes from the feeling that you’re hanging out in Sonic Youth’s practice room, watching them improvise all day. The band’s demise was surprising, leaving no chance for a farewell album or tour. Ranaldo and Shelley diligently attended to their archives, and Shelley mentioned recently that there isn’t much studio material left, so it’s possible this will be their last non-live feature. If so, it’s an apt. Sonic Youth has always been a very social group, supporting other musicians, self-releasing records with the fans in mind, and generally making people feel like part of an informal club for which all four members have provided a band- his. In this direction, Entry/Exit/Entry is as Sonic Youth as it gets.

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