This Album Changed My Life: Sonic Youth – Evol (1986)

Somadrone, aka Neil O'Connor, on an album that made him fall in love with noise

Somadrone: in suburban Dublin, circa 1993, I was a leading connoisseur in the art of home taping

Somadrone: in suburban Dublin, circa 1993, I was a leading connoisseur in the art of home taping

 

“Home taping is killing music.” This was printed on cassette tapes back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in an attempt by the music industry to stop piracy. A connoisseur is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about fine art or cuisines, or an expert judge in matters of taste. In suburban Dublin, circa 1993, I was a leading connoisseur in the art of home taping. Oh boy, if only the music industry had known what was to come.

The tape in question, Sonic Youth’s Evol, was hand-painted and jet black. It came with me everywhere. The band’s use of consonance and dissonance made me fall in love with noise – noise that could be somehow beautiful and harmonious.

Sonic Youth: Shadow of a Doubt, from Evol

Influenced by the sounds of Sun Ra, John Cage, musique concrète and minimalism, the album was like taking a music degree in 36 minutes. Tracks like Death to Our Friends and Expressway to Yr Skull are avant-garde subversions of rock’n’roll: imposed melodies, swimming in dissonance.

Listening to it now, 25 years since my first listen, it’s still as brooding and beautiful as it was then. – In conversation with Niall Byrne

Neil O’Connor has just released his sixth album as Somadrone, Wellpark Avenue; somadrone.bandcamp.com

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