The cover artwork for 'The Destroyed Room: B-Sides & Rarities' is probably the best way to describe the music on the album. The rock n roll cliché of destroying a hotel room is turned into a piece of artwork here with the scene of a room in a complete mess. The wall paper has been peeled off, the mattress has been torn and contents of drawers are scattered in seemingly random piles on the floor. However it all somehow manages to fit together. The colors of the furniture and wallpaper blend nicely together and although objects are scattered around the floor messily they still manage to cover the floor evenly and only leave spaces when needed. So mess and destruction has become somewhat pleasing and peaceful art. The same thing has also been achieved with the music on the album. Layers of white noise, feedback and strange sound effects cover the whole album but yet all the noise and dissonance somehow manages to sound calm and in parts almost hypnotic. A good example of this is the albums instrumental opener Fire Engine Dream. Clocking in at over ten minutes this song can easily hypnotize you with its strange sounds built around a mellow rhythm.
Some of the best examples of Sonic Youth's ability to make noise and feedback sound peaceful are the tracks recorded around the same time as Murray Street. Fauxhemians, Three-Part Sectional Love Seat and Queen Anne Chair are all from this time period and all feature very similar attributes yet all manage to sound unique in their own way. Fauxhemians (named after an essay explaining how young New York City civilians are following in the footsteps of beat artists) is mainly driven by unorthodox bass lines and improvised guitar rhythms and ends up sounding more laid back and relaxed while Three-Part Sectional Love Seat (named after a traditional piece of furniture) is more up-beat and noisy. Queen Anne Chair (also named after a traditional piece of furniture) is more guitar driven and wouldn’t sound very out of place on Murray Street.
The Sonic Nurse Japanese bonus tracks (Kim's Chords and Beautiful Plateau) are easily the some of the more impressive songs on the album. Kim's Chords is based around a guitar line that bassist Kim Gordon was jamming with at the time of recording while Beautiful Plateau is an excerpt from an extended noise jam. Both follow the more laid back feeling of Sonic Nurse and both are extremely enjoyable to listen to.
Blink (which was contributed to the soundtrack of Pola X) and Campfire (which was used to promote a new synthesizer/sound sampler machine) were both recorded around the same time and both are some of the weaker songs on the album. Blink is mainly built around fuzzy noise and sound effects with some echoing vocals provided by Kim over the top while Campfire sounds like a piece of electronic marshmallow being melted over a . . . campfire.
Razor Blade is the shortest, oldest and most peculiar song on this album as it was a b-side from the Bull In The Heather single and an outtake from 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star. Being driven by a strange acoustic guitar piece this is one of the few songs on the album featuring actual vocals. Another strange and experimental track is the mysterious Loop Cat which is built around layers of sound effects and quiet echoing improvised guitar parts.
Although every track on the album is fairly impressive in its own right, the last and longest track, The Diamond Sea, seems to outclass them all. Originally being released on 1995's Washing Machine, this version here is the extended version which is over twenty five minutes long. Being The Destroyed Room’s only song featuring vocals from Thurston Moore it is also the most easily accessible song, at least for the first eight minutes it is. After that it goes into an extended noise jam which sounds experimental even by Sonic Youth's standards.
The Destroyed Room: B-Sides & Rarities is generally what you would expect a b-side album to sound like from a band such as Sonic Youth. It is immensely experimental, heavily improvised, over ninety percent instrumental and manages to make Daydream Nation and Goo sound like radio-friendly bubble gum pop. Unfortunately this could also be counted as a negative thing since it makes the album very inaccessible and repetitive at parts.
Overall though, The Destroyed Room is a great purchase for Sonic Youth fans although it is not a great starting place for individuals who have not yet gotten into the band and its style of music.