For the last 20 years, Sonic Youth has skated the thin ice between improvised noise and indie-rock darlinghood to become one of the most prolific and polarizing camps in music today. It's fitting that at the end of the millennium they'd end up at "Goodbye 20th Century," a tribute album of sorts: Two discs clocking in at more than 100 minutes, all readings of 20th-century composers, the highbrow likes of Christian Wolff, Takehisa Kosugi and Cornelius Cardew. And strange sounds abound, including an arrangement of swinging microphones and the resulting feedback, and playing the piano by nailing down the keys. The release is not for everyone, but no doubt Sonic Youth will be pleased if it gets its fans to look elsewhere for inspiration.
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