Body/Head, Gate | Museum of Contemporary Art | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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When: Tue., Sept. 24, 7 p.m. 2013
Though it often seemed like guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo were the experimentalists in Sonic Youth, they were also the ones who kept returning the music to rock orthodoxy. Ever since the band dissolved, along with Moore’s marriage to bassist Kim Gordon, she’s made it clear that she was the real maverick in Sonic Youth, indifferent to even the simple formal constraints they often used to make their excursions into noise and color accessible. For the past couple years she’s been singing and playing guitar in Body/Head with raw, noisy guitarist Bill Nace, a fixture on the western Massachusetts scene who’s worked regularly with the likes of Moore and drummer Chris Corsano. Following up on a few rough, low-key singles and EPs for tiny imprints, the duo has just released a gut-punching double album, Coming Apart (Matador), whose unsettling pieces are built from barely organized feedback, jagged riffs, repetitively clanging guitar, and gnomic vocal phrases treated to Gordon’s trademark mix of strained incantations, poisonous whispers, and hair-raising howls. Though its structures are extremely loose and mostly sound spontaneously derived, this is seriously committed music that seizes fleeting sounds and gives them staggering weight. Coming Apart includes a dissipated “cover” of Patty Waters’s infamous version of the traditional song “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” (here titled “Black”), which suggests that Waters’s apparently instinctual power is among Gordon’s inspirations. Gordon is clearly her own woman, though, and she seems more free and more formidable now than at any previous point in her career. Michael Morley of the Dead C. opens as Gate, his solo project, in a collaborative performance with Tom Carter of Charalambides. —Peter Margasak

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