Where are we going? Who is taking us there? Will there be shaking ass? The Collective has the answers.

Release date: March 8, 2024 | Matador Records | Bandcamp | Instagram | Facebook

On March 7, 2024 I was working at my local record store, the same store I had frequented for years before becoming an employee. My friend Evan and I were going through the new releases that had arrived that day, inventorying them into the store’s system and preparing them to go out on the floor the following day. Among the new releases to be cataloged was the newest full length LP by Kim Gordon, most well known as a member of Sonic Youth. Evan held up the striking 12” and asked if I knew anything about it or her other solo stuff. I expressed that I didn’t know she had been putting out solo material, prompting Evan to play the track “BYE BYE” off of streaming, one of three singles available at that moment to listen to. Anyone familiar with the Sonic Youth catalog as well as this new album can imagine the utter bewilderment I was flooded with as the booming noisy club anthem began to rattle throughout the store. I looked around confused, perplexed, but completely hooked. Minutes later I would pay for a copy of The Collective, bust open the plastic, and spin it right there in the store as we went about our work, becoming engrossed in the thumping rhythms and unique textures it has to offer.

The opening track “BYE BYE” begins the record perfectly, serving as both a perfect litmus test for the listeners impending enjoyment and a as blood-pumping anthem to set the tone for what is to come. Immediately the listener will be attacked by a dusty bass drum, some cracked-sounding hi-hats, and an occasionally interjected whirring guitar. These elements will serve as the foundation for Kim to deliver her monotonous list of everything she plans to take with her on this impending trip. She is prepared to depart with only the most essential of items, but similarly she is sonically laying out the list of elements she plans to berate you with during this trip of a record. If you are not down for a warped dive into the dingiest basement club imaginable, turn back now, but if these elements hook you as they did me at work that day, then sit back and strap yourself in. Eventually all of these disparate textures blend together into a beautiful noisy crescendo, making it almost seem as if the roof of the dark guttered dance hall is about the cave in and crush all of the lively participants into dust, but thankfully the beams hold and bring the track to a graceful ending, just before the next piece smashes into your ears.

What boggles my mind about this record the most is the insane amount of influences I catch all over it. While listening to this record I constantly am being blinded by these flashes of familiar elements in my ears, but all of them come with new warped sugar coating. This gives the record an familiar feeling to it, while still not sounding precisely like anything else you’ve ever heard. The dancing, nimble synth on “The Candy House” reminds me of the synth on the iconic Memphis hip hop classic “Meet Yo Maker” by Tommy Wright III. It winds through the mix with that same rabbit-like hop to it, making sure the listener never loses track of it no matter how much the track around it warps. “I’m A Man” possesses a whirring industrial tinged guitar, giving me glimpses into all sorts of noisy and dissonant music that Kim not only inspired but often had a direct hand in making. Later in the tracklist, songs such as “Tree House” give us these dark melancholic passages, ones that are sparsely populated by the dry minimal elements. All of them skip and pop in and out of the mix seemingly randomly, serving to unnerve the listener and expand upon the record’s grimy and desolate tone. Throughout this project Kim compliments her soundscapes with monotone speaking and singing, never seeming too alarmed by what she is delivering to us. This seemingly disinterested delivery compliments the texture of this record perfectly. The Collective manages to shine all the way up until its final moments.

The final track of The Collective serves to be one of my favorites in its entire 40 minute runtime. “Dream Dollar” is a track with three phases. The first phases bust open the tension of its opening drum patterns by unleashing a whirring guitar hiss all over the listener. This guitar burns through the track for less than a minute, but in its time we see the only true Sonic Youth moment this record has to offer. It whizzes and whirs with all the cloudiness of classic moments on Daydream Nation. Immediately the record reestablishes its familiar sound we have become accustomed to. Plodding drums and noisy guitars underscore Kim’s monotone delivery, before crescendoing into yet another noisy zenith. After this build hits its peak, it falls away nearly immediately, leaving the listener to float in a haunting minimal drone of an ending. This proves to be a perfect finale for the record. In this one track Kim finds time to express everything that she has been doing masterfully for the record’s entire length. It is noisy, it has pounding rhythms, and its leaves you alone in a stark emptiness when its done with you. This is The Collective distilled at 190 proof.

The Collective is exactly what Kim promised it would be right from the very beginning. It is a despondent but catchy trip to the burning center of the world’s most dank dance floor. Alcohol and drugs coat the floor and cling to the listeners boots so stickily that they can barely trek through the tracklist. If you are wise and adventurous, you will throw on your dancing shoes and fall into this dingy wormhole with Kim Gordon.

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