LIVE REVIEW: Thurston Moore @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney (26/10/12)

by Chris Familton

Regardless of how straight Thurston Moore’s 2012 solo album sounds the sonic provocateur is always one step away from experimental music and the sculpting of sound rather than song. Though his set would prove to be more of the latter Moore balanced things with the support act, Marco Fusinato who is known as much for his art as his music. Armed with a guitar and a table of effects he set about filling the cavernous room with droning static and layered noise textures that ebbed and swelled with cloud-like grace. Music like Fusinato’s is both physical and cerebral stuff that requires an immersive environment and though there were attentive listeners it acted more as background music for beer and chatter.

Things got off to a rocky start with Moore needing three attempts at Lip due to his frustration with the sound and an inability to hear his guitar. Thankfully his annoyance didn’t affect the rest of the show as he and his new band Chelsea Light Moving settled into the set. Much of this year’s Demolished Thoughts record featured acoustic guitars so those songs that got aired took on a new electric light with the full band. The slow moody trails of Orchard Street were a wonderful contrast to the more visceral, jagged moments while Circulation is one the catchiest things Moore has written, certainly in his solo guise. The presence of the new band also meant we were treated to a bunch of new songs. Frank O’Hara Hit got the night back on track early with its repeating riffs that  evolved from quiet to loudwhile Burroughs was all knife-sharp tension and staggering rock n roll that harked back to Dirty-era Sonic Youth. Empires of Time was a tribute to Roky Erickson that was suitably imbued with spirit of crunching garage rock and was a great example of the balance between introspective and ecstatic rock the new band possesses. On the downside, The Hi-Fi was too big a venue, causing a sense of disconnect between band and audience. Oxford Art Factory, where Lee Ranaldo played to a similar sized crowd a week earlier would have been a better choice. That, and the the audience’s lack of familiarity with the newer songs made for a fairly low-key experience but still one with plenty of musical highlights.

this review was first published in Drum Media

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