White Out with Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore – Senso

(Ecstatic Peace)

Lin Culbertson and Tom Surgal (whose primary sources here are a synthesizer, an autoharp, and drums) were joined by the world-famous synth wizard Jim O’Rourke (just kidding) and a scintillating Thurston Moore on guitar in the occasion of a concert at Tonic. The results are sprawled on a couple of CDs for a grand total of circa 85 minutes of extremely chaotic improvisation characterized by scathing outbursts and rare episodes of relative tranquility, the latter immediately cancelled by further doses of endlessly fuelled rage. One wonders if the title pays homage to Luchino Visconti, given O’Rourke’s movie expertise (Senso is a recognized milestone in the Italian director’s filmography).

When dealing with noise, there are two ways in which this writer approaches the matter. When the rumpus is somehow synchronized, paced through an actual composition (as it happens with, say, Daniel Menche’s music) the will of detecting a structure prevails on the necessary defense against the overwhelming qualities of the sonic currents. But when an album contains so many altering elements amidst an unremitting bedlam, the ears stop listening to the details — except when it’s impossible not to — and the body tends to be transported by the mass, finally reaching a state of, get this, comfortable abandon. This is exactly what happened in this very circumstance, constant brawling gradually morphing into (admittedly moderate) gratification.

Trying to detail the ongoing events becomes then utterly ineffective, although a special mention should be made of Surgal’s eternally rolling furor, at times negated by some measure of appreciated rallentando. Moore’s a beast throughout, delivering kilos of burning coals and rusty spikes. Yet — let me stress it — the broad amassment of misshapen overdriven upsurges to which the listeners are subjected is what ultimately wins upon their self-protective strain. There’s nothing more to ask of a record like this, an album of tolerable hysteria perfect for shutting the doors to the outside world with headphones. Mind your hearing, though.



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