Review: Thurston Moore at Café Oto

John Edwards, Thurston Moore at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved


Thurston Moore - duos with John Edwards and Jason Pierce
(Café Oto, 25 January 2013; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)


When Thurston Moore visits Café Oto he wears the mantle of co-operation, co-opting musical and literary partners, including most recently John Russell and Mats Gustafsson and poet Tom Raworth, to chart an ever-broadening gamut of challenging interactions.

Moore and bassist John Edwards took off, without map or compass, on an unerringly telepathic excursion, relying on hunches, judgements and intuition to carve out a chain of vitally defined sonic textures. Sharing a perfect sense of balance, Edwards brought out all the majestic potential of his string bass, recognizing no limitations to the ways in which sound could be drawn from its strings or massive body, while Moore moved from sharp, metallic echoes to a post-Hendrix grist, released from artisan-like attention to the guitar's fretboard. Edwards chose his moments to bring the jazz experience of lightly plucked and strummed acoustic bass rhythms neatly into alignment with Moore's wall-of-noise sensibility. Shimmering underwater feedback and a near-silent drone subverted frenetic rhythmic vicissitudes which hinted at Khatchaturian's Sabre Dance or flamenco strums spinning wildly out of control. This physical, multi-layered concoction demanded a micro-tuned alertness and concentration which was etched in the facial expressions of both performers as they turned in a truly phenomenal set.

Jason Pierce, Thurston Moore at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved


Jason Pierce's guitar duet with Moore resonated with a hypnotic spirit which kicked off with Pierce's lightly shambling, bluesey chords, and skimmed over beats that recalled Terry Riley's eastern-tinged, minimalist electronica and raga-inflected rhythms before settling into feedback-drenched traffic of densely matted exchanges, machine-gun bursts and remote pinging interventions. Pierce crouched over his pedals at ground level left-stage to manoeuvre the distortions and Moore stood with his back to the audience by the speakers on the right, massaging and pummeling out the notes. The momentum built up to sustain a gloriously raw and unholy barrage flecked with twangs, flutters and hums, which finally all vanished in the blink of an eye.

Jason Pierce at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved


Two complementary definitions of wall-of-noise and a fiercely demanding evening for all involved, especially Moore who, like a tennis player, had to regroup for the second set and apply a slightly realigned sensibility to equal the power of the first set. And Café Oto again proved to be the perfect setting for these unpredictable and enriching experiences.

Thurston Moore - guitar
John Edwards - double bass
Jason Pierce - guitar

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