Sonic Youth / SYR 4: Goodbye 20th Century (1999)
Classical | EAC (APE & CUE) | 549 MB
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As their way of saying "bah-bye!" to a century of creative musical innovation, Sonic Youth launched a double album in 1999—probably their most ambitious project to date—by teaming up with radical geeks Jim O'Rourke, William Winant, Christian Marclay, and Wharton Tiers (plus Kim and Thurston's daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore) to pay homage to a handful of legendary avant-garde composers such as John Cage, James Tenney, Christian Wolff, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, George Maciunas, Steve Reich
, and on-site helpmates Takehisa Kosugi
and Christian Wolff
. Even if you're not familiar with Marclay's cut 'n' paste sound art or Reich's repetition theory, these at times wonderful pieces will work their way into your cranium—certainly not your standard Sonic Youth album by any stretch of the imagination. But just as A Thousand Leaves
took Sonny Sharrock's Coltrane guitarscapes into pastoral territory, Goodbye 20th Century
makes unknowable art, be it Cage's zoning "Six" or Wolff's evil electro-orchestral dry heave "Burdocks", seem atmospheric, natural, and even erotic. The oceanic build to James Tenney's "Having Never Written a Note for Percussion", Gordon Moore's 16-second screech through Yoko Ono's "Voice Piece for Soprano," the Youths pounding and piano plinking hammer at George Maciunas's "Piano Piece #13 (Carpenter's Piece)," or Lee Ranaldo and William Winant's take on Nicolas Slonimsky's short, lovely percussion piece, "Pièce Enfantine," wouldn't sound out of place even to this day.