It was late at night and I was driving home from work, driving smoothly over the flyover that was lit up like a tarmaced roller coaster in the dark. The road was clear and empty, the air was cold, and the stars shone brightly above. In short, it was beautiful. For the first time since I had started driving I understood what the freedom of the road meant. It was just me and the machine, cocooned in a nest of startling music. I was listening to Sonic Youth’s 1995 album Washing Machine and I had the last song on the album playing on the CD player, a 19 minute magnum opus titled The Diamond Sea. It was getting deeper and deeper into the trance like guitar work of Lee, Kim and Thurston, where I could hear the undercurrents of the bass notes, the swirling effects of the chorus shimmer, and the delay of the treble notes slowly build and build. The feedback mounted and at times almost over-powered the car itself. I was lost in a revere of beauty that these musicians has sucked me into.
Then suddenly, and without warning, those few lead guitar notes hit, penetrating the noise jam and instantly heralding a new direction in the song. It almost knocked me sideways in my seat. The guitar scratching started in earnest, and the incessant dissonant roar of the feedback curled in and over itself. It was beautiful. A wake up call.
Recently I’ve been re-reading chapters of Michael Azerrad‘s Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, a delightful and eye-opening book documenting and discussing the impact of the underground scene in America, which has lead me to re-discover some of my favourite bands and helped uncover new ones mentioned only briefly in passing in the body of the text itself (such as Glenn Branca). I also recently ordered a copy of Azerrad’s 1993 book ‘Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana‘, and I am currently holding a copy of Kim Gordon’s recently released autobiography, ‘Girl In A Band‘. Suffice to say I am looking forward to rediscovering both of those bands, their influences and their backgrounds. In short I am looking forward to learning something deeper about both the music and the musicians behind the music.
If you need me I’ll be found curled up on the bed listening to, and reading about, some of the most important bands to me.