Lee Ranaldo and The Dust

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust

"A solo record works best when you feel like you're opening a window into somebody's life, experiencing the things they're going through or thinking about, places they're seeing, through their eyes. At its best, you find a universality in it." – Lee Ranaldo

Only those directly in its path know for certain, but there's a good chance that when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern United States in October 2012, it felt like the end of the world. When the storm finally left New York City alone, many residents dealt with destroyed homes and tattered lives but they also received aid from empathetic strangers.
Lee Ranaldo and his family were among the lucky Manhattanites. but for a week, they had no electricity, running water or heat. He did, however, have an acoustic guitar and, as has been the case of late, some new songs began spilling out of it, reflecting a prolific period imbued with eerie uncertainty.
Ranaldo had finished work on his last album, Between the Times and the Tides(released March 2012), before Sonic Youth went on hiatus in the fall of 2011. The record followed an informal period of songwriting, borne of acoustic guitar fiddling and more direct lyrics from a poet known for emotive abstraction. His plans to record a low-key acoustic LP soon evolved and many friends (Steve Shelley, Alan Licht, Nels Cline, Jim O'Rourke, Bob Bert, John Medeski, wife/artist Leah Singer) dropped by to conjure a vaguely psychedelic pop-rock sound that served Ranaldo and SY fans well.
A core unit came together, getting tighter after some roadwork, and soon Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Alan Licht, and bassist Tim Lüntzel became The Dust. The band dug in at Echo Canyon West thru the winter, evolving a new set of songs with a decidedly more group dynamic. Yet even though he was tracking new songs with the band (plus the always-welcome Medeski), Ranaldo wanted to present songs that were even more personal and adaptable to various live contexts.
The songs on this LP are darker, longer, and more intense than those of its predecessor, which was comparably upbeat. Despair and rage ripple through its atmosphere, but are held at bay, never quite able to touchdown. Ranaldo lives near Zucotti Park, which was HQ for NYC's Occupy Wall Street movement. He has visited Occupy encampments in Toronto, São Paulo, and wherever else he can, often bringing his kids with him so they can witness left wing, non-violent democracy in action. Unlike his last record's "Shouts," there is no specific tribute to OWS, but there is a yearning for some real, societal shift. "Every time I wait for the revolution to come," Ranaldo sings on "Home Chds." "Every night I think itʼs here and then itʼs gone."
At the same time the songs on Last Night on Earth reveal a guarded optimism. The term "hope" has been politically co-opted and devalued but it's a key element on Last Night on Earth. Ranaldo sings of land and water and love and certainty—external life forces that can turn on us at any second—from an exploratory, inviting place of co-existence. When the world ends, we're all in this together, and that's a really beautiful, scary thing.

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Lee Ranaldo – composer/visual artist/writer etc – is a founding member of Sonic Youth, now in 32nd year. Although songwriting and performing with his band The Dust (Steve Shelley, Alan Licht, Tim Lüntzel) is his current focus, Lee also premiered a new work "Hurricane Sandy Transcriptions," for Berlin-based string ensemble Kaleidoskop (with Lee on guitar) at the Holland Festival in June 2013, with more performances to follow in spring 2014. Lee continues to perform experimental events with partner Leah Singer as well. Their recent live performances have been large scale, multi projection quadraphonic sound+cinema events, with Lee performing suspended electric guitar phenomena.

Lee's visual and sound works have been on view this year in gallery and museum shows in Porto, Vienna, Prague, Antwerp, Tampa, Bratislava, Auckland, Salt Lake City and in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Recent solo recordings include Glacial (LR/Tony Buck/David Watson) [Three Lobed, 2012]; Les Anges Du Peche: Thurston Moore/Jean-Marc Montera/Lee Ranaldo: Guitar Duets [Dysmusie, 2011]; and Afternoon Saints: The Shirley Jangle (with Christian Marclay, Gunter Muller, David Watson) [Kraak, 2009]. His latest collections of writings, How Not To Get Played On The Radio [SoundBarn Press 2011] and Against Refusing [Waterrow Press, 2010], enlist internet spam as a springboard for poetry.

Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band

Chris Forsyth is a lauded guitarist and songwriter whose work assimilates art-rock textures with vernacular American influences. Long active in underground circles, he has released a string of acclaimed records of widescreen guitar rock under his own name including 2011's Paranoid Cat (Family Vineyard) and 2012's Kenzo Deluxe (Northern Spy). His most recent release, Solar Motel (Paradise of Bachelors) has been called one of 2013's best releases by the New Yorker, Uncut, Aquarium Drunkard, Frontier Psychiatrist, Pop Matters, and others, provoking ecstatic comparisons to classic artists like Television, The Grateful Dead, Popul Vuh, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Richard Thompson, Robert Quine, John Fahey, and Glenn Branca. In spring 2013, Forsyth formed The Solar Motel Band with longtime bassist Peter Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin') and drummer Steven Urgo (ex-The War on Drugs), and introduced the band with a month-long residency at Ortlieb's in Philly that ignited a storm of blog praise when the shows were posted on Soundcloud. Their recent 18-date US tour generated more waves of praise, with Aquarium Drunkard calling them "one of the most raved-about live acts on the road today," and the Chicago Reader commenting "if you take 'classic' to mean “archetypal,” I don’t mind saying that Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band are currently the acme of classic rock. " Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band will release a live LP, Solar Live 11.15.13 (Electric Ragtime) on Record Store Day and their first studio release Intensity Ghost, will be out on No Quarter in October.

"(Solar Motel) is some kind of masterpiece, a four-part suite of ecstatic, spiritual psychedelia that splits the difference between unabashed classic rock thrills and a spikey avant garde sense of adventure. Try to imagine Television circa 1977 recording a cover of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan” and you’re halfway there." - Aquarium Drunkard

"9/10. It’s a fierce, exploratory record that sounds, in a way, like an instrumental sequel to Television’s Marquee Moon. Forsyth understands how to elevate mathematical riffing with lyrical flourishes and buried echoes of folk motifs. As a whole, it's brilliant." Uncut

"Existing somewhere between ambient guitar excess and classic rock boogie, the four-part suite moves with an elegant ferocity. Droning riffs build slowly into full-tilt shred-storms as organs pierce and the rhythm section rumbles. It falls comfortably within rock ‘n’ roll’s most accepted territories, but it pushes at the boundaries, delighting in giving familiar sounds a new purpose. Put simply, it feels like a classic." - Blurt

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Lee Ranaldo and The Dust with Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band

Thursday, April 24 · Doors 9:00 PM at Union Pool