I have to admit I hesitated quite a while before buying Thurston Moore´s Trees Outside The Academy. I didn´t like his first solo outing Psychic Hearts (´95) much and my fave Sonic Youth albums (Evol and Daydream Nation) weren´t exactly made yesterday. But in the end, the idea of an acoustic Thurston Moore proved too interesting to give Trees Inside The Academy - released late last year on his own Ecstatic Peace! label - a miss.
And I´m glad I didn´t, as it´s fun to hear the famed noiseguitar experimentalist mellow out on acoustic guitar. Here Thurston forgets Glenn Branca or Keiji Haino for a moment and moves straight into Bert Jansch or Nick Drake territory. With help from SY drummer Steve Shelley and Samara Lubelski on violin he creates a sparse folky setting on most songs. The duet with Christina Carter (of a band called Charalambides, unknown to me) on Honest James is my current favorite, but Silver>Blue, The Shape Is In a Trance, Never Light and Fri/End are close behind.
The few songs that do try to be more experimental don´t really work: American Coffin for instance is not much more than a great songtitle, and we can do without the artwank of Free Noise Among Friends. Closer Thurston@13 is a soundscape the New Yorker recorded at his mom´s house when he was thirteen years old - funny for one listen only. But as the rest of the material is so surprisingly strong I don´t think anyone will complain. And for those of you who still crave Sonic Youth in full noise mode, I´ve added Death Valley ´69 (from Bad Moon Rising, ´85) and the amazing Expressway To Yr Skull (from Evol, ´86) for your listening pleasure too.
Thurston - Honest James MP3
Thurston - Silver>Blue MP3
Thurston - Fri/End MP3
Sonic Youth - Death Valley ´69 MP3
Sonic Youth - Expressway To Yr Skull MP3