Parker Burwell Toop credit Jak Kilby


Thurston Moore: An Appreciation

What a rock and roll name!! Almost equaled by Lee Renaldo, Kim Gordon and Steve Shelley (and even Bob Bert)?  I loved Sonic Youth, from around 1986 and Evol onward, but enough has been written about this group (two full-length books so far), without me adding my gushing words of admiration to an already full comment box. What I want to do briefly here is give a personal account of what Thurston Moore, in particular, means to me. With SY now passed, it would have been pretty standard fare for me to have parted company with TM, but it was not to be, I’m very glad to say.

He seems hot property at the moment - there was  Radio 6 program about him yesterday, and this month’s Wire reviewed a book about him, called Thurston Moore: We Sing A new Language, published by Omnibus Press, which I have ordered and eagerly await. As many people know. Moore is an avid free improv scenester, and has a literary imprint called Ecstatic Peace, which released the mammoth MUSICS omnibus last year. So Ecstatic Peace was what I thought about trying, when I published my first book back in May 2015, and I accordingly sent Moore a copy. This was very early on, before any reviews or comments had come in, so I was very nervous about its reception, particularly by the free improv community itself, and the first reaction quickly came from Moore himself, via e-mail initially and then through his fanzine The Bull Tongue Review.  I’m happy to say that the response was probably more than I dared hope for. His comments were kind and enthusiastic and encouraging, and it really settled my nerves and my self-doubt, an important milestone in my writing career, without a doubt. I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude for this.

I ran into him on several occasions in a short time at gigs (two that come to mind are Martin Carthy at The Vortex and the Terry Day evening at Cafe Oto). I also walked into Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery, and there was TM and a group playing a ‘chamber drone’ sort of piece with a string-driven band. Even more bizarrely, I ran into this 6′ 5′’ giant in Dunn’s Bakery in Crouch End (next door to the studios there), a curiously homely venue to come across this exponent of the weird and wonderful. He was great, very friendly and down-to-earth, and gave me a copy of The Bull Tongue Review that featured my book. Needless to say, I was chuffed beyond belief, and felt about 14 again. He has also been very supportive around my new book, and seems to have inexhaustible enthusiasm for all aspects and manifestations of experimental music, which is the impression he has always given, to be fair. I can tell you that it’s true.

Moore moved to London a few years ago, Stoke Newington to be exact, in the fall-out from the demise both of Sonic Youth and his relationship with Kim Gordon, who produced her own account of the split in her autobiography last year. He has now become a fixture of the improv circuit here in London and beyond. I can bear witness, as if it were needed, to his continuing support and encouragement of the DIY movement, of which my books are a very small part. Support from figures like himself can mean a lot to people in my position, in the general absence of other extrinsic reinforcement (such as money, for example!). It’s good to have someone like Moore here in person, and I only hope that he decides to stay in our troubled island. He is a true mensch.

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Banner and book cover photo credit: Jak Kilby