Trees Outside the Academy
Call it what you want---quiet is the new loud, maturing as a songwriter, alleviating tinnitus---but sometimes it’s more daring for a musician to turn down the volume from the cloaking effects of inaudible feedback. In the case of Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who for almost 30 years has been synonymous with east coast avant-garde, building a career around the annihilation of traditional musical forms played at tremendous volumes, it equally thrilling. Trees Outside the Academy is mainly an acoustic album recorded with J Mascis, Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley and The Fleeting Skies’ Samara Lubelski on violin. Moore’s focus on standard song structures and subtle aural textures proves he can achieve beautiful symbiotic relationships between noise and melody. Although the results are more comforting than unnerving, it doesn’t come at the expense of experimentation and, occasionally, sheer intensity. “Honest James,” “Fri/End” and “Never Day” are pleasing even when Moore falls back on his love for standard rock songs. But the title track, a sprawling melodic jam that culminates like a frantic race to the edge of a cliff, has a forward momentum that rivals the closing section of “Trilogy” from Daydream Nation. Ultimately the success of Trees lies in the ability to hear so many rich ideas in such clear detail.