The second installment in the lovely (and lately dormant it seems) SYR studio series. This one's a bit longer than the first, but still under 30 minutes long. Here we have a pretty nice warm-up for "A Thousand Leaves," kind of a work-in-progress mostly-instrumental jam session which includes a great deal of "raw-form" material that would later find its way onto the aforementioned DGC masterwork. (There is also, interestingly, a passage toward the end that sounds not entirely unlike "Disconnection Notice," from the new "Murray St." album.) But this recording is far cooler than mere archival demos, succeeding as an album all by its lonesome, albeit a loose one. The music really presents itself well in this format, and in many cases the songs take on a form quite separate from their correlating versions on "A Thousand Leaves." Its really very nice to have this audio snapshot of the Sonic Youth musical production process.
This is a bit less melodic than the first SYR release (there aren't any "pretty songs" here), but there is a little more of a sense of song structure here than on the third one (which, by the way, is my personal favorite in the series). This isn't the place I'd recommend a new listener start. To take it a step further, if you don't have "A Thousand Leaves" yet, I would recommend that you check that out before investing in this fine recording (though those of us who bought this when it first hit the streets of course had not heard "A Thousand Leaves" yet, and most of us still loved this CD). All the same, every Sonic Youth release is (in my opinion) pretty much an "Essential Recording," and this is no exception. I can think of no other band that so consistently satisfied its zealous fans so well. So where's the next one, Sonic?