THURSTON MOORE: 12 String Meditations For Jack Rose VDSQ – Solo Acoustic Volume Five (LP, Vin Du Select Qualitite VDSQ-005)

Thurston Moore - 12 String Meditations For Jack Rose front cover

Thurston Moore was, of course, the frontman of my all-time favourite band, Sonic Youth. He – and they – are therefore responsible for a hefty wedge of records in my collection. As a band, their output is pretty huge and varied in style; as a solo artist, even more so. This album was released in 2011, according to Discogs, although no release date is given on the sleeve – the only date mentioned is that the recordings for the album were made in ‘early 2010’. Sonic Youth ended in late 2011, after the unfortunate shenanigans going on between Moore and bandmate/wife Kim Gordon, so this album was released at around that time. Before and after that time, Moore is/was involved in a relentless number of solo and side projects – he’s famously a fan of records, musical history and the avant garde, and seems keen to make his mark in recorded form whenever possible.

Jack Rose, for whom this album is named, was a much-loved American experimental guitarist, who sadly died in 2009. The ten tracks on 12 String Meditations For Jack Rose, performed on an acoustic twelve-string guitar, are in a Jack Rose style, but are I think original Moore compositions. The rear sleeve mentions “song titles courtesy Byron Coley”, suggesting that the pieces on the record were played and recorded first; named second. Vin Du Select Qualitite released ten of these Solo Acoustic albums, including work by Chris Brokaw, Sir Richard Bishop and Bill Orcutt. Read about the label, and its output, here.

The artwork for the record is in the style of the whole Solo Acoustic series: thin white card stock, typography in Trajan, and a high-contrast monotone image on the cover. It feels like it’s letterpressed. On the rear, simple centred type has credits and a track listing. It’s clean, neat and slightly boring, although I don’t know who is pictured on the cover, so perhaps that carries a story that would add depth. The design is credited to Anthony Pappalardo, which is the name of a famous skateboarder, according to Google. Is this the same person? Who knows. An ‘Artist’s Edition’ of the record also exist, with ‘limited exclusive artwork’. It’s signed and numbered by Thurston Moore, limited to 100 copies, and on coloured vinyl.

YOU’RE SMILING NOW BUT WE’LL ALL TURN INTO DEMONS: Contact High (2LP, Cardinal Fuzz CFUL013)

You're Smiling Now But We'll All Turn Into Demons - Contact High

Nestling down at the far end of the alphabet – in between Young Knives and The Zodiac – it’s the heftily-named You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons. This is a band that’s hovered around my radar for quite some time; I seem to remember that they once sent a demo and asked about playing the music festival that I help to organise, many years ago. It didn’t work out that time, I’m not quite sure why, as they’re a good band with a strong line in fuzz rock that ticks a variety of boxes for me: a bit late-1960s, a bit Melvins-esque noise, a bit Hawkwind.

This album was released in 2014, according to Discogs, but there isn’t a year mentioned on the sleeve or on the records. I bought it around the time of its release, not only because hearing about its availability tweaked my “oh, them!” memory banks, but because the Cardinal Fuzz label is a reliably strong source of decent music that’s likely to be positioned somewhere or other up my street. The label’s run by a hard-workin’, good egg named Dave, who also produces – every now and then – a great-looking and great-reading fanzine called Optical Sounds. According to the blurb on this album’s Bandcamp page, Cardinal Fuzz was partly kicked off in order to release this YSNBWATID album: “One of the main reasons we at Cardinal Fuzz entered the choppy waters of record making was with the sole intention of doing justice to this gloriously fuzzy psych/garage monster on the format it truly belongs.”

The record’s front cover, and a photograph on an insert contained within, hints at the four-piece band – I’m presuming it’s the band members shown – being part of some kind of robe-wearing, Satan-hassling cult. There’s some groovy-style hand-done typography on the sleeve, and the back cover (shown below) follows in its style, with a tritone high-contrast image of the band members. (A tritone is, of course, The Devil’s Sound; how appropriate). The artwork overall is credited (on the insert) to the band. The insert also mentions that the record was mastered by one ‘Peter J Croissant’: I don’t believe that that’s a real name. Those jokers.

The album is out of print now, but can be listened to and downloaded via Bandcamp: