Personnel: Bob Bert, James Sclavunos (drums).
Recording information: Lee's on Cassette; The Pier, Raleigh, N.C.; Wharton's Studio.
Abrasive and archaic, theatrical and confrontational, Confusion Is Sex marks the opening strides that Sonic Youth made during their long slog through the American underground scene of the '80s. And yes, this album is underground if anything -- it's lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise. Yet that tone in itself is part of the album's style, which is one of antithesis. The album isn't comprised of songs but rather soundscapes, while the instruments are your traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup but are performed most untraditionally. Taken as a whole, Confusion Is Sex is a spellbinding listen, especially the first time through. If you're a bona fide Sonic Youth fan, chances are you'll find it especially spellbinding -- the more of the band's albums you've heard, the better. However, if you're unfamiliar with the band, or a casual fan at most, chances are you're going to be thoroughly tested -- this is not an easy album to enjoy. As inaccessible as it may be, however, Confusion Is Sex is a cornerstone of Sonic Youth's career, their true opening salvo toward underground heroism, though miles and miles away from such highly regarded albums as Daydream Nation (1988) or Dirty (1992). ~ Jason Birchmeier
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