Sonic Youth: In/Out/In (Three Lobed) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 6th, 2023  

Sonic Youth


Three Lobed

May 18, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The first “new” Sonic Youth material since 2009’s swan song The Eternal and their subsequent 2011 breakup isn’t exactly new material. It consists of mostly instrumental recordings that were done between 2000 and 2010 in various studios, including their own studio in New Jersey.

Starting with the comforting, quiet, gentle “Basement Contender,” this is Sonic Youth at its most relaxing, reminiscent of much of their mid ’90s to early ’00s material from 1995’s Washing Machine to 2002’s Murray Street when they eased into their long-running Geffen deal and embraced their status as respected elders of alternative rock, openly embracing guitarist Lee Ranaldo’s lifelong Grateful Dead obsessions with long, stirring, instrumental passages that often felt like they were floating on air.

The second track, “In & Out,” focuses on bassist Kim Gordon’s wordless coos and is the only track here featuring any vocals whatsoever. The third track, “Machine,” is Sonic Youth at its heaviest. Here is the band that (unexpectedly perhaps, for some fans who don’t know Thurston Moore’s hardcore bonafides) dug Slayer in the ’80s, sounding like they had just listened to The Melvins or any of their other stoner-metal antecedents for an entire day before hitting record here. Stunning.

By the time the fourth track, “Social Static,” comes on, this world of quiet established early on is further shaken to its core by an 11-minute noise track that sounds like an acid-induced mix of “Revolution #9,” Metal Machine Music, and the static of the title. It’s Sonic Youth at its most psychedelic, though not in the flower power sense that term can evoke. It’s fitting that during this period, they once headlined the Terrastock Festival, which highlights neo-psychedelic underground artists from all over the world.
Finally, they sign off with the 12-minute “Out & In,” a parting gift made bittersweet by the realization that drummer and band archivist Steve Shelley has hinted that there isn’t that much more studio material left in the vaults. Could this be their final full-length release? If so, they sure went out on a high note. (

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