Sonic Youth: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom EP

Sonic Youth
Slaapkamers Met Slagroom EP
Smells Like

WITH ITS DUTCH nomenclature and austere aqua-on-white packaging, the new Sonic Youth EP has the look of a record you might stumble upon during a trip through Central Europe. "Look what I bought for $40 in Prague!" yon hipster says as he files it next to his Japan-only copy of the Boredom's Soul Discharge. But fret not: Released on drummer Steve Shelley's Smells Like label, this is as easy to find as the new Mariah Carey, though not quite as accessible. Over the course of three songs rambling over 30 minutes, the band make dense, expansive, free-rock whoopy. A major rock band hasn't come out with something this groovily unlistenable since SY's hero Neil Young released his feedback opus Arc six years ago.

Opening with an unbearable blast of static like none this band has unearthed in over a decade--or since all they played were unbearable blasts of static--"Slaapkamers Met Slagroom" is 17 minutes of dissonant, amorphous space-jamming, spliced together into what, for better or worse, listens like an angry waterspout. It's a freak show, but not the pure noise-on-noise skronk session you'd expect. The seven-minute "Still" is unsettlingly quiet, deriving its energy from Shelley's refusal to play a steady beat to Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo's digressive feedback wash.

What comes across is pure wanker-come-home. This is the no-wave Sonic Youth, the band born out of the din of Glenn Branca's heathen "guitar-symphonies." Yet, this is also the band that's been on tour with R.E.M., the band that's sold records. This music is as mature as it is maligned. It's also human: The coolest sound on this freaky little guitar record comes on the disc-ending afterthought "Herinneringen," when Kim Gordon moans "guitar/blow up/dada dada," a hunk of babble that essentially sums up the history of the band she plays in. The next line is a whispered plea: "please believe me." It's a beautiful advertisement.

Right after she says it, the record ends on a dime, and you're left hanging. I can't wait to see what they do next.

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