Lee Ranaldo - In Virus Times EP Music Album Reviews

Lee Ranaldo - In Virus Times EP Music Album Reviews
A brief EP from the Sonic Youth guitarist features ruminative, unadorned acoustic performances that convey a sense of anxiety and perseverance.

Lee Ranaldo has always shared similarities with George Harrison. Both guitarists contributed only a handful of songs per album and became the underdog favorite of a beloved band while people split their votes between the two more visible leads. Of the three Sonic Youth songwriters, Ranaldo was always the most indebted to classic rock, and his solo records thus far have looked backwards to his Beatles and Grateful Dead favorites. His brief new EP, In Virus Times, is a departure from this trend. It is a completely unadorned and ruminative listen whose title tells you all you need to know about the context.

This music was born as the pandemic gripped Ranaldo’s native New York, and it was recorded in his home while many studios were still closed. Ranaldo’s voice has always had a scholarly but friendly quality, and his beat poetry-inspired writing has often been a welcome contrast to the slacker melodies of his bandmates. But unlike much of his solo material, there are no vocals on this EP. Instead, alternating between finger-picked and droned chords on his acoustic guitar, Ranaldo manages to convey the anxiety from the ongoing pandemic and the 2020 presidential elections.

In Virus Times blends inspiration from two vastly different artists. The first is Joni Mitchell, whose unique style was a source of inspiration for Sonic Youth’s open tunings. Ranaldo conjures Mitchell’s method of letting an unanswered chord hang in the air; in fact, it’s the very first sound we hear on the EP. The second major influence is Jim O’Rourke, the producer-turned-official member of Sonic Youth. Ranaldo specifically draws from the sound of O’Rourke’s 1997 album Bad Timing, which combined John Fahey-indebted solo guitar and minimalism with a dash of dissonance. These influences are evident, but the playing throughout is unmistakably Ranaldo’s.

In Virus Times is not composed of individual songs; instead, it is broken into four parts that flow into one another but have their own designated starts and endings. The first track offers a complete journey, ending with a hopeful coda wherein Ranaldo whistles a happy little tune. He uses harmonics extensively for the next two parts, pinging high notes on the second composition and then hammering them on the third as if bittered and angry. The fourth and final part of the EP is by far the darkest, with no respite or resolution. The chords loom uneasily throughout, because that’s how Ranaldo must have felt at the time. In moments like these, In Virus Times is best understood as a snapshot of a miserable year, and one person trying to work through it.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lee Ranaldo - In Virus Times EP Music Album Reviews Lee Ranaldo - In Virus Times EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 23, 2021 Rating: 5


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