Fire engine red.
Instead of taking songs and crafting them into noise-rock assaults or chiming meditative love songs, Sonic Youth decided to take their time and slowly craft instrumental pieces. The result of this is the SYR (Sonic Youth Recordings) series, a departure but also a logical progression from the band's most recent works, Washing Machine
and A Thousand Leaves
. They brought in Confusion is Sex
producer Wharton Tiers to fill in the spaces, and thus finalizing the band's dive into more free-spirited, nonchalantly artistic music that DGC would have easily rejected.
Released in May of 1997, Anagrama
is nothing less than a brief slip of musical consciousness. "Anagrama" kicks things off, a winding 9 minute instrumental piece focused on chiming, expanding melodies and clockwork, almost Latinesque rhythms slowly building up to a wall of iridescent beauty. Repitition is not strenuous but welcoming, and once the song has fallen off a cliff, it lazily pulls itself up.
"Improvisation Ajoutee" is a brief lesson in percussive guitar, odd noises, and breezy percussion, while "Tremens" is a laidback, almost jazzy improv tune. Unlike the other songs here, it borders on trippy psychedelia and even DJ Shadow-like atmospherics with liquid, creepy guitar noodling that is sure to satisfy most. The crystal clear production aids the song even moreso, providing a glimpse into Sonic Youth's interplay and tonal/structural capibilties. "Mieux: De Corrosion" destroys the notion off a noise-less Sonic Youth outing with 7 minutes of industrial churning, phaser space attacks, and random guitar assaults, until it later turns into a heavy metal guitar drone and then I guess it went out for ice cream and motorcycle noises after that. It doesn't make sense, but hey...
If the SYR series has proved something to me, it's that Sonic Youth can do anything (and everything) they want and get away with it. Anagrama
is a wonderful, yet brief, outing in Youthian improvisation, keen melodic sense, and noise. Noise.