Street One Sheet
SONIC YOUTH Murray
an operetta of place, performed by:
Free Kim Gordon:
guitar, bass, vocals, dilruba
Thurston Oblong Moore:
guitar, vocals, tack piano
James Jim ORourke:
bass, guitar, homemade electronics, choreography
Leonard Lee Ranaldo:
guitar, vocals, hammond b3 funnel, melodica
Steven Steve Shelley:
drums, accordion, little instruments, sarangi
with auxiliary help from:
Donald Don Dietrich: saxophone
James Jim Sauter: saxophone
Murray Street is Sonic Youths 16th album since they came together
in 1981. It is also the second album in their proposed trilogy about the
cultural history of Lower Manhattan (following 2000s langorous nyc
ghosts & flowers). Many wise owls will note that it has something
of a new rock sound, utilizing material that was
worked out in live shows during 2001, and incorporating the textures of
recent (overt) avant garde explorations into a ragingly populist framework.
Others just ask, Zep, the Dead or Sparks? Whos on top now?
Murray Street was originally the northern edge Queens Farm, a parcel
of land that was subsequently used as the site of Kings College
(1754), and then the original site of Columbia College (1787).
Murray Street is (ostensibly) named after the location of Sonic Youths
studio, in which recording of this album was begun in August, 2001. Following
the events of September 11, and the cordoning off the area where their
instruments and master tapes were, the band laid low for a while. Sessions
began again as soon as it was legally possible. Everything was dusty,
but otherwise okay. Their first live show in the fall was a benefit organized
by Thomas Tom Verlaine. No civilian vehicles were allowed
on the block where the studio is located, so they had to take their passes
and carry all their equipment out, past the barricades, to the extreme
confusion of onlookers, who hadnt realized that Ground Zero had
a musical component.
Murray Street is where one of the engines from the planes that hit the
Twin Towers landed (2001).
Murray Street is the first (though hopefully not the last) major label
album to feature the massed saxophone work of Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich,
best known as two-thirds of Americas most exquisite power trio,
Borbetomagus. They play on Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style,
and if, back in the 80s, you would have postulated that this event
would have come to pass, somebody would have surely spit in yr eye.
Murray Street was one terminus of Beachs Pneumatic Subway, which
ran down Broadway from Warren Street to City Hall (1870-73). Interestingly,
the other terminus is in the basement of guitarist Lee Ranaldos
Murray Street is the first full Sonic Youth album to include the all-out
collaboration (writing, playing, dancing and producing) of Jim ORourke.
ORourke, exhausted after a full night at NY Dolls (once thee place
for Gothams Guitar Greats to enjoy a dance and a lap), was sleeping
in the studio when the planes hit. You can ask him about the club, but
not the aftermath. Please. And no, that wasnt him, stuck in the
studio 24/7, visible on the webcam that broadcast the full recording process.
That was Techboy Tim. He never left the studio. But that was his choice.
Murray Street is the birthplace of Lionel Trains (1900).
Murray Street is perhaps best seen as a product of cooperative game theory.
Like all Sonic Youth albums, it is a result of individuals, striving in
a collectivist environment, for goals that are only understood once they
are achieved. It is a brilliant evocation of the here and now, as well
as the there and then. Its future unfolds like a petal-turned-tarpenny
before us all.
--Byron Coley/Deerfield MA/2002