23 Years Ago - Sonic Youth's 'Daydream Nation'

Tonight I had to choose something to listen to whilst I cooked dinner, in a slightly sombre yet comfortable mood, Sonic Youth sprang to mind and after considering their commercial breakthough album Goo I eventually settled on Daydream Nation with which to partner by Red Wine and Chicken Creation. The irony being moments later it was brought to my attention that Daydream Nation turned 23 today.

By refining the song-oriented breakthroughs of their previous album Sister and developing their fascination with noise and alternate tunings, Sonic Youth created a 70 minute masterpiece of post-punk art rock with this double-album. The album at first appears to be nothing more than a self-indulgent ego trip, however Daydream Nation is powered by a sustained vision, one that encapsulates all of the group's quirks and strengths.

Alternating between tense, hypnotic instrumental passages and furious noise explosions, the music demonstrates a range of emotions and textures, and in many ways, it's hard not to listen to the record as one long piece of shifting dynamics. But the songs themselves are remarkable, from the anti-anthem of Teen Age Riot and the punky Silver Rocket to the hazy drug dreams of Providence and the rolling waves of Eric's Trip.

For those unaware Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M and Husker Du were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde,Sonic Youth redefined what noise meant within rock & roll. Sonic Youth rarely rocked, though they were inspired directly by hardcore punk, post-punk, and no wave. Instead, their dissonance, feedback, and alternate tunings created a new sonic landscape, one that redefined what rock guitar could do.

This anniversary is even more interesting as only this week saw the bands long married couple Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon announcing they were to divorce after 27 years of marriage. This makes Daydream Nation a romantic gesture and a great piece to acknowledge not only a better time in the lives of the creators, but probably one of the last albums that truly sought out a new dimension in audio.