Sonic Youth: Simon Werner A Disparu

Sonic Youth’s relationship to the visual arts is ardent and sincere. They share a sensibility with the downtown gallery scene they so clearly adore –  a mix of undiscerning hipsterism & progressive aesthetic instincts. On the positive side you get Gerhard Richter’s lovely candle painting on Daydream Nation, John Fahey’s expressionistic swirl on The Eternal. On the ‘meh, there’s Christopher Wool’s clunky stencils on Rather Ripped, Mike Kelley’s smart-alecky puppet on Dirty, and Richard Prince’s lazy, easy, smeary nurse on Sonic Nurse. And then there’s Raymond Pettibon. Look, his work is unimpeachable as shorthand for the glory days of LA hardcore, but I think they think he’s a talent for the ages. Feh. To be fair, though, they did get as good of a Pettibon as you can get for Goo. Thei covers for their artier, self released SYR series have been sharp but rather perfunctory takes on classic sound library records of the 60’s and 70’s. Their latest release under the imprint, a soundtrack for the French director Fabrice Gobert’s high-school mystery Simon Werner a Disparu, is a total stunner – a gorgeous, highly graphic vignette, and ace piece of prep-school pop art!