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Monday, October 10, 2022

Thurston Moore, Mats Gustafsson, Stephen O'Malley – Born Without Word/At A Worn (Slowboy, 2021)

By Nick Ostrum

Born Without Word/At A Worn features Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth and so much more) and firebreather Mats Gustafsson (whose releases have been reviewed six times on FJB just in 2022!) along side Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley. The result is exactly the type of churning haze, cavern-of-sound, misanthropic sorcery that one would expect with these three. Moore and O’Malley split guitar duties, while Gustafsson contributes sax and electronics. On the first piece, 'Born Without Word,' Gustafsson relies on the latter, and, in a manner similar to his soundsculpting in Anguish, produces gusty atmospheres of industrial decay. These are a perfect backdrop for Moore and O’Malley to pummel with their unrelenting chords (O’Malley) and wandering, broken radio-signal tremolo (Moore, I think). On the other track, 'At A Worn,' Gustafsson turns to his sax and absolutely tears with some doomy incarnation of the Scandinavian fire-music he has been developing and redeveloping for much of his career. And then comes the feedback, and that feedback is deep and dreary even as it periodically lightens. This, however, is not quite some endless Sunn O))) hellscape a la Monoliths and Dimensions, which incidentally is a personal favorite. Moore adds his unique noisy proclivities and seems as eager as Gustafsson to break through the pulverizing thrum. They can only break through so far, however, before O’Malley pulls them back into the morass, to which, it seems, they gladly return. For his part, O’Malley is much more versatile than his doom credentials alone might hint. Yes, he devours feedback. However, he can clearly stand his own with Moore and Gustafsson’s endless, playful curiosity. Just listen to the second half of 'At A Worn', which is leaden, but emanates a surprising vitality. Absolutely brutal. I just wish I could have experienced this one live.

Born Without Word/At A Worn is a limited edition of 500 vinyl LPs.