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Silver Session (For Jason Knuth)

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Album Review

Of the many strange recordings released by Sonic Youth over the course of their long career, few measure up to Silver Session for Jason Knuth. On the inside of the CD sleeve, guitarist Thurston Moore explains the unique situation involving this record and what sort of music to expect. Sonic Youth have been known to drift away from the pop/rock precedent with their tendency to incorporate untraditionally tuned guitars, feedback-driven noise, incoherent lyrics, and odd song structures into their music. On this record, though, they completely abandon any sort of rock-related clichés, instead delivering eight songs of lively guitar feedback. According to Moore, while the band tried to record the vocals for their A Thousand Leaves album one evening, a band in the neighboring studio proceeded to play "some funky metal overdrive." Frustrated over the incident, Sonic Youth turned every amplifier in their studio to ten-plus and leaned as many guitars as they could against them, creating a cacophony of ear-piercing feedback. The group recorded the session and mixed it into digestible sections. Surprisingly, the resulting record has quite a serene feel, with the feedback taking on a beautiful ambient aura. The record also functions as an ode to Jason Knuth, a Sonic Youth fan who committed suicide. Proceeds from the CD went to San Francisco Suicide Prevention Hotline. Don't consider this one of the influential group's most important albums by any means, but do consider it an interesting addition to their catalog, intended mainly for loyal fans.

Biography

Formed: 1981 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,...
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