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Sonic Youth - "Battery Park, NYC: July 4, 2008" | Album Review


by Gianluigi Marsibilio (@GMarsibilio)

An intimate, controversial, symbiotic relationship of incessant and sometimes disturbing interaction, that's what emerges from the new live album by Sonic Youth. The show was recorded in Battery Park (NYC) in 2008: it is important to clarify that I have never been to New York and yet I can imagine this place simply following the sound directions dictated by the beautiful record, like an electric jungle where cables and canons become lianas to cling to, Thurston Moore is Tarzan and the distorted sounds are its habitat.

Battery Park, NYC: July 4, 2008, despite my deep aversion to live recordings, is exactly what you can expect from a band that had recorded in 1987’s Sister and 1988’s Daydream Nation. In fact there are the characteristic evolutions of the noise that make Sonic Youth so lovable. Redundancies of melancholic feedback that tell humanity in its highest poetic form of poverty and essentiality.

The discovery of Sonic Youth's “ur-sound” is exactly in that silent attack of "Hey Joni." Battery Park is a place where the core of a constant, wonderful career has been consumed and where the coordinates of sound research have never been missing. Sonic Youth is a musical revolution that creates a unique sound and ideological fracture, perhaps that in its intimacy also has something incomplete, broken, tragic and then the connotation that assumes is epic. The creation of a dissonance that splits the space-time texture, a concert like a big crunch and big bang at the same time. The coordinates of beginning and end are lost in a single, incredible sharpness.

In the live set there is a sort of pornography, the discovery of the naked and soaked sound, as you can hear in "Making The Natural Scene" with the violence of a voice that breaks, becomes liquid on a series of passages and networks of reverberations. In the performance there is the depth and sacredness of a unique alchemy, which is not lacking in immediacy: there is the carefreeness of karaoke at 3 am in Koreatown and the evocative power of a Gregorian choir in St. Peter's Basilica.

Sonic Youth is a tsunami, a wave that comes to port. Hokusai, a famous Japanese painter, has always painted the disruptive force of nature, Sonic Youth have a push, an echo that never ceases to amaze, just like the paintings of the Japanese artist.

2019 is a year in which we can rejoice at live records like this one. Sonic Youth leave a footprint in Battery Park in rhyme with a career, with a philosophy. Sonic Youth is New York, even though I have no idea what New York is like at the end of the day.