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The Destroyed Room

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Album Review

Devoted to the more open-ended rarities that have gathered in Sonic Youth's discography in the decade spanning from Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star to Sonic Nurse, The Destroyed Room serves as a reminder that even the band's sketches and non-album tracks remain fascinating. Pieces like the Murray Street outtake "Fauhemians" and "Campfire," which originally appeared in the 1999 collection At Home with the Groovebox and sounds like static kisses, are great examples of Sonic Youth's ability to make dissonant, weird, and otherwise unexpected sounds feel soothing (something they've done especially well in recent years). Likewise, "Fire Engine Dream," the ten-minute Sonic Nurse-era jam that kicks off The Destroyed Room, is pretty subtle despite its hypnotic fuzz; along with the shimmering sound collage "Loop Cat," it shows that the band's seemingly far-flung experiments are balanced with structure and restraint. Given that many of the tracks here ended up tucked away as bonus tracks on Japanese editions of albums, or on the cutting-room floor, it's understandable that an unfinished feel pervades The Destroyed Room. This incompeleteness is by no means a bad thing, though, especially on the twangy, off-the-cuff Experimental Jet Set snippet "Razor Blade" and the beautiful "Kim's Chords," an instrumental full of changing moods and Sonic Youth's distinctive ebb and flow. There are also a few fleshed-out but hard to find songs here, chief among them "Blink," the band's contribution to the soundtrack to Pola X, Leos Carax's 1999 experimental film noir, and the (very) full, 25-minute long version of "The Diamond Sea," which emphasizes the avant jam band feel they've cultivated in later years. Just as this collection's name and artwork turn the rock cliché of trashing a room into a work of art, The Destroyed Room is a creative — and quintessentially Sonic Youth — approach to the rarities and B-sides comp.


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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