Even from the early days as co-founder of art rock icons Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore always sought refuge in far weirder side projects and one-off collaborations. While Sonic Youth always stood on the edge of indie rock and noisy cacophony, Thurston's on-the-side dabblings delved far deeper into insane noise, guitar squall, and free jazz-informed improvisation, enough so to make his main band seem tame by comparison. Drummer John Moloney, no slouch himself, was a founding member of Boston-born experimental tribe Sunburned Hand of the Man and spent years pushing the boundaries of abstract rock sounds, eventually falling in with Moore as a member of his early-2010s band Chelsea Light Moving, among other things. Somewhere in there, the two players got together for a series of guitar/drum duets, under their own names in a series entitled Caught on Tape. Full Bleed represents a slightly different side of the duo, as it veers away from the sprawling drones or jazz-minded free noise of earlier limited-edition recordings, opting instead for a mood far more violent and eruptive. Indeed, the nine improvised blasts of Full Bleed feel songlike, instantaneously composed explosions with heavy leanings toward the hate-fueled fury of metal and the sloppy bad attitude of punk. Recorded in true improv style in a single date, the set begins with "Age Limit," a plodding series of anguished feedback sludge that gets broken up by nervous, skittering playing from both drum kit and mangled, chiming guitar squeaks. The song ends with a straightforward punk beat and Thurston's distorted guitar struggling to produce something other than black-hearted noise. The title track goes further down the path of lurching, minimal metal and detuned guitar sputtering as Moloney holds down a dour, shiftless beat. This tortured slowness shifts into spazzy noise moments on the crying squall of "Self-Rule," and as the set burns on the duo stays in a dark place, resorting only occasionally to respites of dreamy prettiness before going back into darkness and confusion. Full Bleed is a harrowing journey, but won't come as too much of a surprise to anyone who's been following Moore's exploits on the sidelines. Aspiring to both the abandon of spiritual jazz and the burning nihilism of black metal, Moloney and Moore land somewhere else entirely, in a bleak world of noise and disdain that sounds like a state of mind both players feel alarmingly at home in.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas