Put to tape in a single live session one evening in February of 2013, @ finds two of New York City's longest-running fringe dwellers churning out sheets of collaborative sounds that conjoin their respective and distinct states of constant freak-out. Thurston Moore, known best for his decades of noisy pop with Sonic Youth, has always sought shelter in an array of far noisier side projects, and here he offers only electric guitar improvisations, clattering and chiming but not quite as all-out in the cacophonous noise directions as he can sometimes veer. John Zorn, playing only sax, actually tends to be the wilder of the two in their duets, blowing skronky and continuous runs midway between Albert Ayler's spiritual blasts of mayhem and the gritty downtown N.Y.C. sound he helped helm with his Tzadik label and its scene of improvisers. The connectivity of the duo is impressive, especially in moments of complete and unexpected synchronicity that come on more sprawling tracks like "Strange Neighbor" and the unfortunately titled but dutifully ripping feedback fest "Jazz Laundromat." The quieter moments of @ find less willful instrument destruction, but just as sideways of a look into structured improvisation. "Her Sheets" builds on droning, contemplative sax figures from Zorn as Moore scratches and picks at his guitar until a looming cushion of sound eventually forms, womb-like, around the both of them. These seven improvisations sound inspired without feeling at all heavy-handed or urgent. More so, @ succeeds with the type of conversational playing that could only be achieved by two masters so deep into their craft that it probably feels a lot like breathing to them by now.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas