Sonic Youth invested the money they earned as Lollapalooza headliners in 1995 in a new studio. Owning their own studio gave them the freedom to experiment as they were recording, since they no longer had to pay rental fees. To inaugurate their new studio, they set out to record a series of experimental instrumental EPs with engineer Wharton Tiers, all of which would be released on the quartet's own label. With its winding, elliptical improvised instrumentals, SYR 1 set the tone for the entire series. Musically, the EP isn't far removed from the instrumental sections on Sister or Daydream Nation, but this music isn't merely waves of feedback -- it's considered, detailed, and bizarrely accessible. Like the epic "The Diamond Sea," the four songs have shifting sonic colors, as simple riffs build and intertwine, crossing over each other before finding a new path. It's closer to avant-garde than rock, but the music isn't purely cerebral, either. Recognizable statements float in and out of the mix, providing something of a touchstone for the free-form explorations. SYR 1 also has brevity on its side. The EP lasts 25 minutes -- which is just enough time to provide an exciting blueprint for a new era of Sonic Youth.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine