In mulling over their career, it’s staggering to realize that Sonic Youth not only delivered a healthy slab of releases as a unit but also have a myriad of shelved material still waiting for broader ears. While the group’s current Bandcamp abode lays out a generous amount of it, a bunch more has yet to surface. And it’s a massive mountain to chip away at in the sense of the group output alone; individual members’ projects are a whole other game, needless to say. In/Out/In ably delivers a new slab of mostly-unheard Sonic righteousness, with a scope on the post 2000-era band in especially zoned/exploratory regions.
The 80’s and 90’s continually saw Sonic Youth reminding everyone that their jams ran free alongside song craft and visible development album to album; there were Peel excursions, dipping toes into soundtrack work starting with 1986’s Made In USA, and of course great impromptu expansive takes of tried and true previous material onstage. The millennial establishment of home turf studio spaces in NYC then NJ greatly egged on forays into improvisation and composition on their own clock as evidenced in "Goodbye 20th Century" and the plethora of SYR releases that trickled out side by side between major release albums. At this juncture they had already created a cultural template for a whole new breed of rock heads who, in turn, entered a feedback loop to SY itself, which cultivated more of its own new moves informed by the very fandom they had for their acolytes all the while pushing the band outward to uncharted fields. Jim O’Rourke’s residency had already influenced the band’s material in part into denser, longer, meditative paths. Mark Ibold’s entry for their swan song "The Eternal" also allowed for more of this exploration with Kim Gordon having more room to commit to third guitar. However "The Eternal" also took more cues from Ibold’s bottom-end swing and perhaps dialed back the expansiveness of the "NYC Ghosts and Flowers" and "Sonic Nurse" era a notch in a cool way, making it one of the best group efforts for me, anyway. Perhaps this fueled some of these tracks here, in an already comfortable zone with a new lineup and new drive to take sideroads to even more outer realms.