Even Kim Gordon seems to have a hard time keeping track of the far-flung projects she is
working on as a solo artist and as bassist for the pioneering New York noise-rock band
No wonder, with Sonic Youth planning both a new record and an album of covers of
contemporary classical composers, and her own plans for a two-CD collection of solo
material recorded with New York turntablist DJ Olive and Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda. Add
to that her responsibilities curating an overseas art show, and the various improvisatory
gigs around New York she has to juggle, and it's a miracle she has time to think.
"We're just starting to put some stuff together," Gordon said of Sonic Youth's 13th studio
album. "We wrote one song, so we're sort of easing our way back in."
Just as the group's 1998 album, A Thousand Leaves which featured the
languid single "Sunday" (RealAudio excerpt) was inspired by
the band's abstract series of Sonic Youth Records EPs, Gordon said those EPs also
inspired the still-untitled new album.
"We're also rehearsing for the Knitting Factory stuff," Gordon said, referring to the New
York club's annual jazz festival, "so all these things start shaping the next material. The
last [album] definitely was inspired [by the EPs]; maybe this stuff will be even more
inspired by doing more improv stuff" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).
In the meantime, Gordon has been working on a number of side projects with several
avant-garde friends and musicians. Along with playing one-off improvisatory gigs with
drummer Ikue Mori, former percussionist for the late-'70s New York no-wave noise band
DNA, Gordon said she has recorded nearly two albums worth of songs with New York's
DJ Olive, Mori and producer Honda of hip-hop pop group Cibo Matto.
"She plays drum machines with processing and I play with her a lot," Gordon said of
Mori. "She's always been one of my favorite drummers."
Another offbeat project Gordon said she and various bandmembers have been working
on may become the next installment of the ongoing Sonic Youth Records series of
experimental EPs often referred to by their catalog numbers: SYR 1, 2 and 3
the band began releasing in 1997.
So far, the new material, dubbed the "New Music Sessions," consists of covers of music
by such contemporary classical composers as John Cage, Christian Wolff, James
Tenney ("Having Never Written a Note for Percussion") and Pauline Oliveros, who wrote
a new piece for the group.
The most intriguing song recorded for the effort so far, Gordon said, is a cover of a
primal-scream piece by Yoko Ono, singer/performance artist and widow of Beatle John
Lennon, that features Gordon and Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore's
toddler daughter, Coco, on vocals.
"We want to expand the SYR series so that each release doesn't have to be
Sonic-centric," guitarist Lee Ranaldo said. Future releases could include Moore's
acoustic-guitar recordings and other solo presentations.
The Sonic Youth Records EPs have focused on the band's more experimental work. The
discs feature such tracks as "Anagrama" (RealAudio excerpt) from SYR 1
and "Slaapkamers Met Slagroom" (RealAudio excerpt)
from SYR 2. The group also includes drummer Steve Shelley. Experimental Chicago
guitarist Jim O'Rourke and percussionist Willie Winant also have been sitting in on the
"New Music Sessions" recordings.
A half-completed collaboration with Icelandic electronic group Stilluppsteypa is slated to
be turned into SYR 4, though it may get pushed back in the series to allow Sonic Youth
to release an EP of their own compositions first.
Sonic Youth came out of New York's Lower East Side art scene in the early 1980s. In a
career that has mixed punk rock with avant-garde experimentation in the vein of their
predecessors the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth have released 12 full-length
albums, plus the series of SYR EPs. Sonic Youth helped pave the way for broad
acceptance of such major noise-rock bands as Nirvana.
The group will road test some of its new material during a series of live gigs this summer.
After completing performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, N.M., in
early June, the group played the Knitting Factory Jazz Festival on June 13 and will next
be heard at the This Ain't No Picnic show Sunday in Irvine, Calif.
The roster for that show includes such popular and respected names in experimental
and underground rock as Sleater-Kinney, Guided by Voices, the Boredoms, Sunny Day
Real Estate, Rocket From the Crypt and Apples in Stereo playing on three stages at Oak
As if that weren't enough to keep her busy, Gordon said she's working on an art show to
take place in March featuring a number of as-yet-unnamed contemporary artists. "I'm
trying to work on my artwork and painting and I'm curating this show in Holland," Gordon
said. "It's going to take place in an alternative space and have some multifaceted
aspects to it."
Gordon also recently recorded an untitled duet with Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder that
is intended to serve as the credit music for director/actor Tim Robbins' new film, "The
Cradle Will Rock," due in December.
(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)