Sonic Youth

The SYR series of recordings were the right idea at the right time. Issued via Sonic Youth's imprint—beginning in 1997 and continuing, albeit sporadically, to the present day—the releases allowed the group to shrug out of verse-chorus-verse strictures self-imposed as (relatively) new Geffen signees. Lyrics were spare and, if present at all, tended to be impressionist; jams ran long, free-form and resolutely anti-pop—particularly in the case of Silver Session for Jason Knuth. Destroyed Room's cobbled-from-odds-and-ends view is similarly spacious, if warmer. Grids of UV-ray guitar float, clash, then knot up on the playful if unexceptional "Queen Anne Chair." Sonic Nurse bonus track "Beautiful Plateau" doubles as a mannered study in dissonance, slipping from managed, noisy chaos to ringing, current-meets-tide glory and back with blink-and-you'll-miss-it speed. "Campfire," which appeared on the 2000 At Home With the Groovebox compilation, anticipates Excepter by at least a few years, even if Excepter might've left it on the cutting-room floor. While tacking on an extended version of "The Diamond Sea"—their circa-1995 Grateful Dead epic stab—at the end tamps the mood somewhat, Room's immersion value's high, even if its contents are ultimately little more than recycled melodic goods.
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Ray Cummings

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