There is so much propulsive feedback, and so many drones, that you don’t notice the drums, and then you realize they aren’t needed. This is a tribute to the abilities of
Kim Gordon and her partner Bill Nace. Their guitar work, especially on the intro to “Can’t Help You,” melodise providing the very loose yet sturdy structure, the feedback, and the drones providing a steady rhythm. That has the effect of being vaguely ominous, but is more often strangely comforting. There is nothing cold about this music. It is warm, enveloping, and perfect to meditate to, especially if you hate or are sick of new age music and want something with some teeth in it.
Kim’s chanting adds to these effects. A word, a phrase, no verse-like lyrics. Just a line or two here and there, in a voice that is cracked and strained. Yet these are some of the finest vocals she’s ever done, and make this a classic, even if you’re not sure how well you understand, or get experimental noise/music.
Kim Gordon deserves her icon status in whatever she does, in whatever medium she chooses to express herself, not just because she broke so much ground, and is one of the few college rockers still making relevant music. She’s set the benchmarks for women making any kind of music, and is just as much a godmother of rock as Patti Smith. In Nace, she has found a better and more sympathetic player than even Thurston or Lee, and that’s not a put down of either. It’s just a different type of playing than they did. But I prefer this album to a lot of Sonic Youth’s work, even though I am a fan of that band, and would pull this album out to play before I would pull out, say, Goo, that’s how wonderful this album is.