Thursday, 3 November 2016
Oliver - Sonic Youth - Shaking Hell [Live] (23 February 1992)
This treat for "Sonic Youth completists" was taken from a live bootleg recorded in Groenigen, Belgium, circa 1983-84. It comes from their second album, Confusion is Sex. So much of this came through in the selections that Peel played from 1987's Sister album over December '91/January '92 that I'm left wondering if they went in any other directions over the intervening four years.
Once again, it seems to me, that Sonic Youth perfected a narrative within their songs that fixated in the terrors of personal interaction and sexual attraction. Terror was the apt word for something like Pacific Coast Highway, but here the landscape is far more intriguing. That opening embrace between guitar and drums conjuring images of CBGBs in the early 80s where the freaks danced to blistering art-rock while facing each other down and touching tongues to decide if they would leave the club together. It's 20 seconds of bump 'n' grind in which you can almost audibly feel the sweat pouring down the walls. And then while that dance riff keeps on, in come the doubts - represented here by rolling shots of guitar blasts, like a flamethrower in a discotheque - "is this safe?" Can I trust them?""Do I love them?" All these questions and more butt their way into the heads of our unseen pair.
There may be reasons to leave early, but in Sonic Youth's world, you will never get away in time - the rhapsody comes down with the classic Sonic Youth blast of guitars - a rush of noise which sounds like something trying to push through the membrane of the Earth and into the heavens beyond. And then there's Kim Gordon - there's always Kim, but she offers no respite. Her breathy vocals becoming more unhinged as she exhorts fabric and bodily disrobing, "Shake off your flesh", like a rock chick Isabella Rosellini. It's freaky, funky, euphoric, unsettling and utterly compelling.
Video courtesy of sonicboy19.