Sonic Youth’s 2011 split after the acrimonious divorce of key members Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore means a reunion is unlikely. Many will be grateful, then, for these remaining scraps from the alt-rock lynchpins’ table.
Consisting of five largely unheard, mostly instrumental rarities from the band’s last 10 years, In/Out/In isn’t a “new” album by any means so much as tracks that remained underdeveloped or unfinished at the time. Two – In & Out and Out & In, recorded a decade apart – have been released physically before. The former, recorded in a soundcheck, is a Neu!-like groove with Gordon contributing gently hypnotic vocal mantras. The 12-minute latter starts as a driving groove with walls of guitars and suddenly shifts gear into an infectious hook. The shorter, punchier Machine hails from 2008 but harks back to their late 1980s/early 90s vintage, presumably losing out to stronger ideas for the final album, The Eternal. Social Static, a challenging soundtrack to Chris Habib and Spencer Tunick’s Super-8 film of the same title, finds them at their most dissonant, sculpting with distortion.
Recorded in a basement during the final days of the band, opener Basement Contender is a delicately haunting, slightly Velvet Underground-ish instrumental on which you can really hear the band’s chemistry as they explore their way into the song and trade hypnotically pretty guitar lines. It’s easily the gem here and provides a tantalising glimpse of what might have been still to come.