thunder demons swipe her halo then they run away / I know better than to let her go
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1994: a surreal, but actually somewhat factual, interview between Thurston Moore and Beck, which ends with the greatest missed high-5 in the history of high-5’s.
1994-2010: not much
2011: Thurston Moore creates, with Beck’s help, a raw, but somewhat biographical, album of soul-bearing songs called Demolished Thoughts.
Demolished Thoughts very easily could have been Thurston Moore’s folk album, as he hypnotically strums his alternately-tuned acoustic guitars and sings his Beat-poet lyrics. Beck, as the producer, keeps that simple set-up, expanding it only with cello/harp and light rhythm sections.
I think a lot of this atmosphere comes from the space Beck gives each part. The cry of the cello on “Benediction,” the swirling harp on “Illuminine,” the flow of “In Silver Rain With Paper Key,” it never feels like too much. Even when some sounds come of as more experimental, like the end of “January,” it feels just right, and never strays from Moore’s core. The songs are allowed to be what they are, which is exactly what songs like this need. The frantic but quiet storm of “Circulation” or the mournful feel of “Blood Never Lies,” for example, develop so naturally that you cannot help but feel the songs. There is no artifice on this record.
I do not want to get into the biographical angle, as Moore keeps it all distant from his songs. If the news of his separation with Kim Gordon (and perhaps, Sonic Youth?) had not been made public, I doubt Demolished Thoughts would be looked at through such a lens. Thurston Moore has never been an explicit songwriter, and he does not start here. But the words do reflect a tumultuous world, an inner turmoil, that it is hard not to mention. “Where did you disappear today? / I turn the corner and I see you fade / In silver rain with a paper key / You lost your lover,” Moore sings on one song. “I know better than to let her go” ends “Benediction.” “It was only a matter of time / Before the space police discovered my crime,” he regrets on “Space,” “Hearts get broken every day / Your undying lover is here and gone.”
Moore’s songs explore turmoil and sadness, which in turn, Beck helped mirror in its music and sound. They make a particularly affecting album, difficult at times in its rawness, but still gorgeous in its own way. Like a missed high-5.
Thurston Moore “January”
Thurston Moore “Benediction”
Spotify playlist of my top-20 albums