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thurston - Trees Outside The Academy
What is it that keeps Thurston Moore so interesting, relevant and cool? Maybe it's the fact that he keeps himself at the forefront of the music scene? Or maybe it's the fact that through numerous collaborations he manages to challenge himself and others by moving out of comfort zones he's set for himself over the last twenty-five years. Whatever it is, it confounds all expectations. Musicians are supposed to lose it after the first couple of albums, right? It should shock some people, then, that 'Trees Outside the Academy' rank's as one of Moore's most assured and finest recording efforts to date. It's not that Thurston has been quiet since his debut solo full-length 'Psychic Hearts' back in 1995, he's contributed to more records I could possibly cover, but the solo work has taken a back seat, probably to allow him to engineer such classics as last year's Sonic Youth masterpiece 'Rather Ripped' or the stunning double-whammy of Bark Haze releases on Important earlier this year. "Trees Outside The Academy" opens on a high and we're instantly introduced to the record's shimmering soul with 'Frozen Gtr', a track which begins with wailing strings (courtesy of the lovely Samara Lubelski) - with acoustic guitar, percussion (from Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley no less) and of course Moore's voice (which sounds cleaner and better than ever) added to the mix. He has surrounded himself with a very able crowd of collaborators, backing vocals come from Charalambides' Christina Carter, guitar solos from Dinosaur Jr. man J Mascis, Gown/Bark Haze feller Andrew McGregor pops up and there are even appearences from Sunburned Hand of the Man founder John Moloney and grrrl-noise pioneer Leslie Keffer. Well I'm exhausted already, but it's a credit to Moore that he harnesses this sprawling collection of unique talent and constructs an album as well realised and as listenable as you could ever have hoped for. I could go on about highlights all day (there really aren't any low points...) but one track I can't seem to take off repeat is the six minute epic 'Silver>Blue'. What starts as an acoustic rendition of early Sonic Youth (think Daydream Nation era) manages to transcend the comparison quickly and become its own beast, highlighting everything Moore is great at - memorable melodies, glorious harmonies, and that ever so slightly discordant heart. Lavished with some sparkling production and brought to life with Lubelski's violin work this has to rank as one of Moore's most accomplished compositions and is a centrepoint and balance for the record as a whole. Oddly enough, the record comes to a close with 'Thurston@13' a recording Moore discovered of himself at thirteen years old, experimenting on tape. Some people have to learn how to think musically, how to take risks and how to experiment, others are simply born with it. One of the albums of the year, no doubt, and something which in years to come is sure to be regarded as a classic - now how many records can you honestly say that about? Buy it.