Hard on the heels of his Watch the Sky collaboration with poet Radieux Radio comes Thurston Moore's latest
Clocking in at five songs, you'd be briefly nonplussed at Rock n Roll Consciousness if you didn't know better, if you didn't already know that within Thurston Moore's punk heart beats a man who loves to solo. The solos in Rock n Roll Consciousness are so long they refuse to even acknowledge that they are solos. They are instead mighty ocean-going voyages of noise. Album opener Exalted clocks in at a mighty 12 minutes, and barely a minute of that involves lyrics and vocals.
The sound is such that, given the title, you start to ask yourselves all kinds of questions about what the quiet bits and the loud bits actually mean (man). We know that music is the arist's expression (and that Moore surely thinks of himself as an artist) so what is he trying to say? Is Rock n Roll Consciousness an exploration of the shifting dioramas of what constitutes that music we would label as rock n roll? Or is this an expression of Moore's own rock'n'roll consciousness, of where he is right now, a 50-something avant rocker with a legendary but now-defunct band behind him? Is he looking backwards or, reinvigorated, looking forwards? Hard to say. So best not to say probably.
Instead let's focus on the music because what music it is. Cusp roars out of the gate with a golden clarity, the closest thing to an out-and-out pop song Moore has produced since maybe 100% (from Sonic Youth's Dirty). Turn On – clocking in at over 10 minutes – is the prettiest offering here, even if it veers into Wedding Present country before finally redeeming itself with some blissed out noise. Lead single Smoke of Dreams feels like Moore asserting his elder statesman 'I'm the new Lou Reed, surely?' status.
And then we climax with the chiming beauty of Aphrodite, the lyrical and sonic twin of album opener Exalted. All told, Rock n Roll Consciousness feels deep and multilayered, the kind of record you want to spend some time with, a piece of art that will continue to change and shift as you engage with it. Rock n roll that worms its way into your consciousness – maybe that's what it's all about.
Listen to: Cusp, Aphrodite
Buy Thurston Moore - Rock n Roll Consciousness on Double LP/LP/CD from Norman Records