Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Spanish musician Raül Refree have shared a performance of “Light Years Out,” recorded earlier this year at the gallery/workspace NeueHouse in Manhattan.
The clip was recorded on February 21st at Ranaldo and Refree’s release party for their collaborative LP, Names of North End Women. The spooky, old library vibe of the NeueHouse provides a fitting backdrop for their extended rendition of “Light Years Out.”
The performance opens with Ranaldo reciting a spoken-word piece while drawing strange feedback from a tape deck, while Refree clatters away on a drum pad. The pair soon guide some structure into the chaos, but the performance never strays far from the mesmerizingly strange.
Ranaldo told Rolling Stone that the NeueHouse performance captures the kind of show he and Refree wanted to take on the road, before their touring plans were derailed by COVID-19. “We decided to limit our shows to just the two of us, and to try and reflect the experimental attitude with which the material was created,” he said. “After a bit of searching we both became excited about the direction we were uncovering. As with the album, we were mixing hi-tech digital tools and low-tech/no-tech things — old cassette recorders, home-made percussion instruments, bells and brass bowls. We were planning a stage presentation that was a bit more theatrical than we’d attempted before – we wanted the concerts to be like attending a night at the theatre.”
He added: “This video documents the first steps in our development of the songs for live concerts. We were both excited and curious to move forward and see where our ideas would take us, but now everything is on hold for the moment while more important issues take precedence.”
Back in January, upon the release of “Light Years Out,” Refree told Rolling Stone that the song’s instrumentation was actually based around an old cassette that featured audio of Ranaldo throwing chairs against the wall. Ranaldo added that the recordings were made nearly 20 years ago while working on a tribute album to the Japanese noise band Hanatarash.
“With this cassette and some of the others we found, we created this texture. It was a fresh experience for us,” Refree said.
Names of North End Women was released in February via Mute. The album marks the duo’s second collaboration, following 2017’s Electric Trim.