Though it’s somewhat surprising Thurston Moore and Beck didn’t work together prior to Demolished Thoughts, their collaboration lives up to its promise, delivering an album of psychedelic chamber folk that is the perfect meeting of both artists’ mellow sides. At times, Beck the producer feels like a junior version of his longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich -- and indeed, Beck brings some of the expansive intricacy of works like Sea Change to this set -- but here he’s truly accomplished, embellishing Moore’s songs with special effects that really are special. “Illuminine”'s rippling harps and sparkling electronics conjure a vast, dusky twilight filled with fireflies, while the strings and layers of other sounds on “Blood Never Lies” float along like pieces of dandelion fluff. These filigrees add a beauty that doesn’t get in the way of Moore’s strumming and melodies, whether they’re angular or flowing, or both, as is the case with “Mina Loy”'s descending drones. Beck also adds a trippy depth to Demolished Thoughts that is often breathtaking, particularly on “Circulation,” a tone poem about vinyl that grows from atonal acoustic riffing into a sound-world of sawing, strafing strings, and on “In the Silver Rain with a Paper Key”'s meditative shimmer. This approach is a big change from Moore’s previous solo effort, the much more down-to-earth Trees Outside the Academy, which felt like a more distinct entity from Moore's work with Sonic Youth. In some ways, Demolished Thoughts' size and polish rivals anything he’s done with them, and it’s hard not to hear echoes of the band on several of these songs. “Benediction” opens the album with the kind of pastoral ruminations Moore has been dabbling in since Washing Machine, albeit given an extra glow thanks to the hypnotic layers of percussion, keyboards, and strings woven throughout. Meanwhile, “Orchard Street”'s stream-of-consciousness evocation of New York feels like it’s just down the block from Murray St. Of course, it’s hardly bad or surprising that Moore’s work resembles itself, especially not when the results are this compelling.
Demolished Thoughts Review
by Heather Phares