MIRROR/DASH : Come Across (2008)

Kim WC
Of all Sonic Youth's many on/off side projects, Mirror/Dash are undoubtedly my favourite. An exercise in somnambulistic lo-fi guitar-based improv grot, they might just as easily have been conceived by a couple of bored, provincial, narcoleptic 14 year olds (with a pawn shop Tanglewood, a 10 watt practice amp & Dad's careworn copy of the V.U.'s Banana album at hand) as S.Y.'s Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore. And therein lies their charm.

Debuting in 1992 with the otherworldly "Electric Pen" 7", Mirror/Dash have sanctioned only a scant handful of records in the 2 decades since, principally on vinyl. Come Across - a CD - accompanied an exhibition of Kim's abstract watercolours at KS Art, NYC in March 2008, & was released in a strictly limited edition of 100 hand numbered copies. At just over 5 minutes' in length, I'm guessing you're as reluctant as me to cough up the inflated £50+ price tag it currently commands (it must be murder being a Sonic Youth completist these days). Reminiscent of Sonic Youth's earliest experimental recordings, it's eerie substratal sprawl perfectly compliments Kim's illusory paintings, & suggests that Moore/Gordon share an uncanny creative telepathy - not surprising, I suppose, considering they've been a couple since 1981? Incidentally, the project is titled after their nicknames for one another: "Mirror" being an alliterative pun on Moore, & "Dash" on Flash Gordon. As Come Across is so brief, I've bundled it with their trance-inducing May 2005 live set from Scotland's Le Weekend festival - if this doesn't convince you you to track down their records then, erm, you're probably reading the wrong blog...

You can read more about Kim's art, photography & poetry here, & in her Performing/Guzzling monograph. Mirror/Dash is also the name of her rather high brow fashion label.


JIM O'ROURKE : jim:computer:hotel (2000)

If Jim O'Rourke only entered your orbit via his collaborations with Wilco & Sonic Youth (both since terminated), the dizzying extent of his vast back catalogue must seem an awesome & daunting prospect. If you're confused & looking for a way in, start here perhaps. Or anywhere.

Though I don't pretend to be anything like an O'Rourke completist - I'm content to merely launch an occasional random guerrilla raid on his oeurve - I am a massive fan of his music. And though his phenomenal work rate suggests that he can probably knock out stuff like jim:computer:hotel in his sleep, O'Rourke has never failed to maintain a peerless level of quality control (if he has released a mediocre record then I've yet to hear it). I have to admit that I've always found this "artist alone in a Holiday Inn with his Macbook" mode of creativity fascinating anyway - not just O'Rourke's work, but work of that ilk generally. One of my favourite LPs this year (so far) is Tim Hecker's superb, & stylistically akin, Ravedeath 1972, listening to which led me directly back to O'Rourke's early 00's work.

jim:computer:hotel (subtitled "Chicago - Ystad") was recorded in Spring 2000 & commissioned/produced by Swedish artisans Mats Gustafsson & Thomas Millroth for their Olof Bright label. It was included in The Black Box, along with Sonic Youth's impossibly rare Without Kim CD, a booklet of Loren MazzaCane Connors' drawings, & much more. Released in an edition of 100 copies, The Black Box was sold at Ystsad Art Museum's Kulturburo 2000 exhibition/event, retailing at a hefty $500. It's contents, now a decade old, have yet to be reissued anywhere.


EURYTHMICS : Never Gonna Cry Again 7" (1981)

Eury pic
I know what you're thinking... & you're wrong. I'm not an enormous Eurythmics fan either, but "Never Gonna Cry Again", Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart's first release after dissolving The Tourists, may surprise you. From 1981's In The Garden LP, it was recorded in Cologne with Conny Plank & features contributions from Les Vampyrettes (aka Can's Holger Czukay & Jaki Leibezeit), DAF's Robert Görl, Blondie's Clem Burke, & Markus (son of Karlheiunz) Stockhausen. Cologne evidently had a very profound effect on them: "Never Gonna Cry Again" is a superior slice of Krautrock-inspired, Leibezeit-driven motorik pop that quietly anticipates Stereolab's perennial Neu!-lite chug. It's also notable for it's flute solo - though Lennox had studied the instrument at London's Royal College Of Music, this is one of very few occasions that she played it on record. The b-side is just as impressive - "La Sinistere" is a nightmarish, semi-improvised piece with Czukay's atonal French horn featured prominently in the mix & Leibzeit on drums again. The result? A Hammer horror soundtrack with tenable Pierre Schaffer leanings. Ever the completist, I've also included "Heartbeat, Heartbeat", the raucous b-side of their follow-up single, "Belinda". Czukay, Leibzeit & Stockhausen are all credited with brass on this track, while Görl takes over on drums. Like "La Sinistere", it sounds remarkably like something Malaria! (or Rough Trade-era Wire) might've put their name(s) to. So, where did it all go wrong? When In The Garden stiffed, Lennox & Stewart withdrew into hermitic duo mode, penned soon-to-be chart behemoths "Love Is A Stranger" & "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)", & allegedly toured the country in a horse box (!), performing live with just synths & pre-recorded backing tracks. However, long after they'd become a regular TOTP fixture, they still found time to record this intriguing single with T.G.'s Chris & Cosey, while Lennox's vocals feature on much of Robert Görl's underrated Night Full Of Tension LP.

N.B. Check out this excellent Old Grey Whistle Test perfromance, featuring Lennox in full-on Thomas Jermone Newton mode, & both Czukay & Burke in reserve - it's their first TV appearance anywhere apparently. There was an official video too, though it doesn't look like the budget stretched much further than a day return to chilly South End.