The reason for my gobbledigook, encrypted and frankly confusing title has alot to do with the way this album makes you feel. the very appropriately named Confusion Is Sex leaves you feeling a little disorientated to say the least, Screeching and shredded guitar wails, demonic vocal screams and relentlessly thrashed drums. The album doesn't really fit into any particular genre although it was recently coined as "No Wave" probably because it has very little if any structure at all. Whilst i'm writng this i have to acknowledge it doesn't sound very flattering or favourable and the four star rating is starting to look like a contradiction. To be honest it kind of is, because this record as i've already stated, isn't easy on the ears it's almost unlistenable unless you have a high threshold for pain. That being said i did give this album four stars for a reason and that it's ability to get under your skin, tear open your flesh, and sink it's venomous teeth into your bloodstream. the music is very powerful even if it isn't necessarily pleasant the most poignant example being Kim Gordon shrieking "I wanna be your dog" taken from the crazy genius iggy pop to which this band were obviously inspired by. Pleasantness is over rated though, i mean i like pop music as much as the next guy, but i also appreciate bands that have the balls to emerce themselves in ugliness and dare to intensify their sound to the extent that most will reject it faster than they would a cocktail of cocaine and heroine which i'd imagine would probably go quite well with this music. It's appeal i admit is going to be limited, but if you're the kind of listener who likes to be tested and appreciates experimental music than i strongly reccommend this as your choice of poison, trust me it's one hell of a trip.
This is crazy, harsh, difficult music, let's get that clear from the start, but you didn't expect anything else, did you? Within SY's back catalogue, musically this album isn't essential. SY had yet to discover the huge palette of guitar sounds they now have at their command, and their songwriting skills were far from honed to perfection, but try to imagine it's 1982, and SY have not released anything yet. The anger & visceral noise pointing out that there is a band ready to assume the mantle of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges. The music itself was important at the time, maybe less so now as SY have gone on to greater things, but this album is effectively a landmark.
I have to disagree with the previous reviewer. As a MASSIVE lifelong SY fan, I am beginning to think this is their best record. It is a brilliant achievement. Remember that Lydia Lunch quote about SY "how do you sculpt a hurricane into sound?" This is what she was talking about. Sure, it is more atonal, more abrasive, more uncomfortable and more serious than any of their other work. There's no goofy ironic pissing about here, as would come later. This is SY carrying on the NYC art rock lineage - Velvets, the new wave and No Wave - and taking it somewhere else entirely. When you put on the CD you will enter a domain of extreme emotional expression, the music rocks in a different way, with a different palate of gtr soundz. This is so much more exciting and interesting than any other No Wave stuff I have heard, with the exception of one Red Transistor song I heard in 93 and never again... Just to pick out a few ultra-highlights: (She's in a) Bad Mood - the opening track - is itself a cosmic voyage, a cathartic trip. Shaking Hell starts out as the classic "subway train groove" before morphing into a dread symphony. Inhuman and Kill Yr Idols - both total killer rocker classics in my book. How wonderful that a major label is putting this out! Ha!
Check this one out..a masterpiece on vinyl and now on C.D. Kim Gordan giving her all in 1984,and Thurston Moore doing his bit..every Sonic Youth album in the Eighties was SO different to anything you've heard before..plus check out 'EVOL' another top C.D...New York City music!
Confusion is Sex is brilliant. As you listen to this record, just imagine these sounds emanating from a scummy New York rehearsal space. What were they thinking? Why did they decide to devote their lives to making this claustrophobic, cataclysmic and challenging music? Well, hopefully because no one else was going to do it, and because it's good. Sure, it's very hard to listen to, but that difficulty is proportional to the reward you get for putting in that effort. Sure, it will sound like noise to anyone who isn't aware of Sonic Youth, but it's not. This is a great rock n' roll band who, here, are deconstructing the very building blocks of popular music, splitting the atom, so to speak. They have taken the musical note APART, and in so doing have discovered riffs and tunes that exist beyond the limitations of the standard 12 note stave. The performances are flawless, and maintain the beat even when there are no drums or bass leading the way. They may be hitting their strings with all kinds of things, they may even have modified their instruments, but they were reproducing these noises perfectly and repeatedly time after time, pulling subtle tunes out of abrasive noise.
Confusion is Sex is impassioned, inspirational and visionary. Just imagine what might have happened if Sonic Youth had ever ventured outside the standard 4/4 time signature... I've been racking my brain, but I don't think they ever have!
Let me just say: this is NOT a place to start your discovery of Sonic Youth's music. For introductory level albums get Washing Machine, Dirty or Goo. Washing Machine really is the most accessible Sonic Youth album I know. Dirty is Sonic Youth does Nirvana. And Goo is probably the most punk Sonic Youth album. Go forth and start exploring.
If you already like Sonic Youth, why are you even reading these reviews? You know you're going to get it anyway!