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Sonic Youth Get All Arty with Fall Releases

Catherine Lewis and Ray Suzuki report:
Sonic Youth are quite the busy buzzards this fall, what with an appearance at this weekend's Terrastock festival in Boston, two experimental new releases, and a handful of recently announced Thanksgiving shows. The group just wrapped up a number of solo one-offs and collaborations between Youth axeman Thurston Moore and improvisateurs Wally Shoup, Paul Falherty, and Chris Corsano, and another head-to-head with Moore and freshly initiated Youth rookie Jim O'Rourke.

Just this week, Konkurrent issued the eighth volume in their series of In the Fishtank mini-LP's, featuring four-fifths of Sonic Youth (everyone but Kim Gordon), three members of ICP (that's the Dutch free-jazz collective the Instant Composers Pool, not Insane Clown Posse), and a handful of other musicians including Terrie and Luc Ex and percussionist William Winant (who has toured with folks such as Thurston Moore and Steve Reich). It was recorded in June of 2001.

The Dutch label often sponsors touring bands to stop off in their studio for a few days to record something-- anything-- that it then releases as part of its growing "In the Fishtank" series. The series has featured several collaborations in the past-- most recently, Duluth slowcore outfit Low with their former tour-partners the Dirty Three; before that, Tortoise with The Ex, and Willard Grant Conspiracy with Telefunk-- as well as recordings by bands on their own (e.g., June of 44, Guv'ner). The label places no restrictions on the bands, and their in-studio wankery sometimes works incredibly well (case in point: Low and the Dirty Three's excellent reading of Neil Young's "Down by the River") and sometimes works only about as well as you would expect from 48 hours of studio noodling (well, I'm not going to name names, as that would be tacky). Tracklist:

01 III
02 IV
03 V
04 VI
05 II
07 IX
08 X

Third-chair guitarist Lee Ranaldo has also released an experimental record overseas: Outside My Window the City is Never Silent, a joint release between UK labels Chocolate Monk and Hell's Half Halo, combines "sounds of forgotten conversations, voices of loved ones, talks delivered via wire, crosscut with various tone poems (music(s))." All of which is just a fancy-pants way of saying it's a collage of studio outtakes, noise, found sound, and audio from "friends, family, loved ones and other artists" including Ranaldo's Sonic Youth bandmates, authors Charles Bukowski and Raymond Carver, even the Youth's Lollapalooza tourmate Courtney Love. The collage, originally assembled for a 2000 radio broadcast in Belgium, "grows out of recent works I have been creating dealing with phrases constructed from various recycled bits of voice and sound, the silences between them, and the cross-pollinations which occur as they are combined in different ways," Ranaldo sez.

And finally, the Yoof are wrapping up what has been an incredible year for the shaggy-dog art-rockers with five more live dates in the northeast, including two nights at Irving Plaza. Dates:

10-13 Boston, MA - Middle East (Terrastock Festival)
11-22 Northampton, MA - Calvin Theater
11-23 Providence, RI - Lupo's
11-24 Baltimore, MD - Recher Theatre
11-29 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
11-30 New York, NY - Irving Plaza

.: Pitchfork Review: Sonic Youth: Murray Street
.: Sonic Youth:
.: Konkurrent:
.: Originally published: 11 October 2002
.: Items mentioned above on In the Fishtank 9 (Sonic Youth + ICP + the Ex, 2002); Murray Street (Sonic Youth, 2002); In the Fishtank 1 (NoMeansNo, 1999); In the Fishtank 2 (Guv'ner, 1999); In the Fishtank 3 (Tassili Players, 1999); In the Fishtank 4 (Snuff, 1999); In the Fishtank 5 (Tortoise + the Ex, 1999); In the Fishtank 6 (June of 44, 1999); In the Fishtank 7 (Low + the Dirty Three, 1999); In the Fishtank 8 (Willard Grant Conspiracy + TeleFunk, 2001).