Saturday, November 6, 2010


I had thought that Neil Young had long fallen to the periphery of popular culture while maintaining a steady release schedule that felt disposable, or worse,  utterly meaningless.  Let's face it,  in a world filled with oldies acts and Merzbow's extreme noise discomforts,  where could Young go to  make a contemporary statement  suggesting a vital vision unimpaired by age?  Well,  he went back to being himself (just a man and a guitar) with a bit of help from Daniel Lanois' subtle production techniques.  LE NOISE is a brief CD filled with songs of regret,  thanks,  anger,  and ambiguous summations of his various selves.  Even at its quietest moments it sounds extreme in its truths,  mostly because today's popular music seems so sonically sanitized ,  silly in intent,  and dangerously stupid in its attempts to communicate.  The overall tone of this late career masterpiece is made even more evocative by Daniel Lanois' loops,  delays,  and textural tangles,  owing more to recent electronica than Young's earlier stabs at Kraftwerk coupled with Devo (TRANS 1983)  or Sonic Youth's noise ethic (ARC WELD 1991).  It's obvious that after releasing decades of pointless trash,  Young is finally back on (Shakey) ground,  or as he sings in "Rumblin",  "When will I learn how to listen...?".  He's still restless,  and that's a good thing.

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