His post-Sonic Youth career may have begun on a misfire (the meandering, largely acoustic Demolished Thoughts) but since 2014, Thurston Moore has bunkered down in North London and exalted further and further upwards towards a kind of high noise rock transcendence.
This is the cacophonous in pursuit of the celestial: By the Fire may mark little deviation with records like 2017’s excellent Rock n Roll Consciousness, but God it’s thrilling. Much of this is down to a killer lineup including his old band’s Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe and the truly voodoo guitarist James Sedwards. Listen on the twelve-minute ‘Siren’ as Moore and Sedwards are locked into something repetitious but pensive, the accumulated weight of their staccato electrics mirroring the spiritually aligned free jazz of which Moore is increasingly a student (he specifically referenced Albert Ayler as an inspiration on this record). Moore sings on just over half of the tracks, and the lyrics are concerned with nature, flowers, and the earth (maaaan). There’s blissy stoner psychedelia with terrific opener ‘Hashish’, whilst single ‘Cantaloupe’ riffs on an unexpectedly fun metal hook.
By the Fire is an imposing record – three tracks alone take up some forty minutes – but there are endless rewards in its divine discord.