Amarillo ramp (1998)

Lee Ranaldo

Starlight Furniture Co., *8 (CD, 1998)

When it comes to side projects, Lee Ranaldo is not the most prolific member of Sonic Youth, but his extracurricular activities are certainly no less stimulating than those of Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, or Steve Shelley. This album is dominated by the half hour-long title track, a 1994 live solo performance, which is as expansive as the massive land sculpture (depicted on the cover) for which it is named. Ranaldo’s minimalist-inspired method is deceptively simple; he plays brief guitar phrases and loops them with a digital delay, then plays contrasting lines against each loop. But his molten tone and refined instinct for the right moment to shift focus (which was further fine-tuned by the post performance editing of Portuguese musician Rafael Toral) turn a series of gradually morphing repetitions into hypnotic, mind-altering music. The other four pieces form a bit of a grab bag. “Non-Site #3” is a steeplechase feedback jam by Ranaldo and his Sonic brethren Moore and Shelley which points the way towards the giddy experimentation of Sonic Youth’s recent self-released Musical Perspectives EPs. “Notebook” frames a Kerouacian poem about lives that move too fast or not at all with brilliant guitar sparks, while “Here” is a pensive acoustic piece that confirms Ranaldo’s appreciation for John Fahey’s work. The album closes with a crunchy but faithfully anguished cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.”
— Bill Meyer , Inkblot Magazine