Lee Ranaldo / Thurston Moore / Nels Cline / Carlos Giffoni

Four Guitars Live

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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson

Since two of these four guitarists are Sonic Youth alumni, there's not much surprise about the sound -- except that both Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo seem to have turned away somewhat from the Glenn Branca-derived, volume-for-the-sake-of-overtones approach that sometimes typified their work when they were younger. On this live improv set, recorded in 2001 at the now-defunct Luxx club in Brooklyn, Ranaldo and Moore teamed up with Italian guitarist Carlos Giffoni and the more jazz-oriented Nels Cline (brother of drummer/composer Alex Cline and later a member of Wilco) to explore a nicely variegated palette of sounds, some of them harsh and noisy but most of them surprisingly delicate and subtle. The album's single untitled track opens with a promising dubbiness, as echoes and delays are brought to bear on a wild array of bizarre guitar sounds; later there are some beautiful moments of improvised counterpoint between two of the guitarists while the others experiment with gauzy chordal effects and dramatic pitch-shifting. Toward the middle things get noisy, as slabs of noise begin to build up in layers before eventually dissolving into more abstract, almost pointillistic passages involving more fun and weird effects. At the very end, the monstrous wall of sound gradually evaporates into lacy tinklings and vaporous sonic clouds. Very nice.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Nels Cline / Carlos Giffoni / Thurston Moore / Lee Ranaldo 41:50 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick