Thursday, June 04, 2009

Black Youth

Given the current controversy in the blogosphere over Sonic Youth, I was intrigued by this excellent Decibel Magazine interview with SY's Thurston Moore in which he extensively discusses his predilection for Black Metal:

"I remember Sonic Youth playing in Scandinavia at the end of the ’80s and early ’90s and all the kids there were getting into local metal stuff. I remember them walking us around to record stores and they all had long hair and leather jackets and they were all kind of morose. I remember going to this one store in Oslo where all they were playing was Deicide. [Laughs] Deicide was coming to town and they were really excited about it—more excited than they were to see Sonic Youth. And then there was all this local stuff, like the first Mayhem recordings. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time because it just seemed like sub-Venom. So I didn’t really start listening to black metal until maybe the last ten years or something. I was into certain things, like the first Burzum record. I remember buying that in Scandinavia after I’d read about it somewhere. That record was cool because it was so unusual. It had this very displaced kind of quality to it. It was more avant-garde compared to most metal—it was almost alien. But I wasn’t really following it too much."

Does Moore's 'confession' confirm SY's supposed avant-conservatism? Does this prove their alleged role as a "hypervisible simulation of an alternative within the mainstream" (sourced here)? Or, to put it in Black Metal terms: are SY really posers? Or is it part of their fandom, carried over from punk, "a demolition of the fourth wall of the stage of performance which is designed to have a liberatory, anti-hierarchical effect, putting the band down among the audience." (sourced here).

Personally, I stopped following SY after their 2000 album NYC Ghosts and Flowers. Nonetheless, I saw them live a few times after that; I enjoyed their shows immensely.


phinehas.roy said...

I live in the same college town in western Massachusetts that Thurston moved to about a decade ago. I know him a little bit through mutual friends and just seeing each other around over the years. About a year ago he overheard me talking about Beherit. He came over and started enthusiastically talking about black metal and asked if I wanted him to burn me a mix of "some really kult shit". A couple weeks later I was a show and Thurston tossed me a stack of NINE cdr's! I can attest first hand that he is genuinely way into it.

Kevin said...

Also mentioned in the interview with Thurston, which is not brought up in your blog entry, is references of French Les Légions Noires (specifically Mütiilation) along with Abruptum being one of his favorites. While one can certainly debate the connection of Sonic Youth and black metal, based on the Decibel interview I would tend to give Thurston the benefit of the doubt. He could have spoke of commercial friendly popular "black metal" bands such as Satyricon or Dimmu Borgir (which I'm sure the readers of Decibel would have loved!), but instead talked of The Black Legions.

ZoneStyxTravelcard said...

Hi Valter, thanks for the link to my post. In another Thurston Moore interview I once read, he suggested that Celtic Frost had cited tracks like Cross the Breeze on Daydream Nation as an influence on them? Is that plausible? I don't really know Celtic Frost well enough to judge.

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