In 1996, Thurston Moore was still mostly known for his work with the rock group Sonic Youth. In 1996, the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville was an established institution in the realm of serious experimental, improvisational, and avant-garde music. In 1996, Moore was invited to play the FIMAV. Anyone present at the concert could feel how awkward the setting was: young fans cheering and hooting at first, looking confused a few minutes later, but not as confused as the festival's connoisseurs who came that night with very low expectations. You can actually hear all that on Piece for Jetsun Dolma, released on the festival's label, Disques Victo. Moore (guitar, noise) was flanked by Tom Surgal and William Winant. Surgal played impressive free rock drumming, while Winant made use of a wide array of percussion, from tympany to sheet metal and bells. The three of them played for 67 minutes without interruption, except for a short hiatus (hence the split in two parts on the CD). Moore's approach here was similar, although less extreme, to what Keiji Haino can do with his trio Fushitsusha: walls of noise gradually built and brought down. The American's music is more textural, less cathartic than the Japanese. The interest does not sustain throughout as there are empty passages, but overall this is a strong performance. Fans of Sonic Youth already acquainted with the band's more improvisational releases (on their own label SYR) will particularly appreciate Piece for Jetsun Dolma.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture