Four years on from Thurston Moore's last solo album, he's still the man who started out in Sonic Youth but he's not the same. That might sound a little obvious but listening to his latest album 'Demolished Thoughts' the departure from his previous work hits instantly. Moore's moved on from the thrilling frontline of noise, No Wave and New York of the Eighties to acoustic guitar and songs about life and loss.
The difference of direction is itself a marker of Thurston Moore's dynamic nature, that works as an example of his constant appetite for change. Now in his fifties, few men are in a better position to explore creativity than Thurston and the three decades spent making music have brought a confidence unparalleled by youth or hardship. For all the ambiguity in what seems like a folk album it's still the voice of a rockstar sharing truths. On listening, there's more than a hint of the luminary Nick Drake, and Beck standing at the production helm comes as no surprise.
"Orchard Street is anchored in divinity's shadow" he murmurs at one point, provoking contemplation of what this man might know about something so suburban, and seemingly mundane, as God.
The opening track's title, 'Benediction', is the first word uttered, as if to bestow a blessing on the listener for the duration of their visit. Any expectation of loud, noisy rock is immediately allayed by the acoustic guitar's brisk pace as Thurston's voice makes the first marked impression, soft and rich, warm and expansive. Violin plays an important role, far from second fiddle to the guitar its rising lilt and whirling pitch affirms it as a worthy adversary to Moore's formidable guitar skills, running one step ahead with pliant, artful grace.
'Illumine' bears a faint trace of 'Shape Is In A Trance' from 2007's 'Trees Outside The Academy' but it's 'Circulation' where things begin to gel, the strains of Sonic Youth whispering beneath. However 'Demolished Thoughts' is not like a scattered, varying selection of seperate songs. This is a cohesive, strong vehicle for lyrics and music to travel across landscape of the soul, taking in the scenery and bumps in the road.
With a buffer of bass but still no drums, it becomes clear that there's little percussive input in 'Demolished Thoughts' as 'Orchard Street' wheels out, slightly slower but so heavily strummed, front-loaded with lyrical longing and hope that drifts to a broad instrumental swathe of violin and harp that extends to 7 minutes, making it the longest track on the album. The tension in 'Blood Never Lies' is relieved by the charm of 'In Silver Rain With A Paper Key' but at this point, fairweather Thurston fans may have found their attention waning.
In 'Space', another broad expanse is explored in flowing patterns and strokes, before 'I used to have all the time in the world' chimes in after three minutes, a melodic contemplation that is most likely tied to the divine searching of earlier tracks. This is where the inkling of maturity appears that naturally must have somehow manifested.
Without extensive research there's no way of knowing why a balance has been struck between rock and folk but it's certainly not due to some form of ripening with age. There's no croak or quiver in the vocals and it's clear that Thurston's hands move naturally fast in the the tempo of rock songs, pushing his acoustic to more chords and a fuller sound than slowpoke finger-pick folk singers could stretch to.