“His music, his guitar style, his amp settings, they were all primal attacks”: Thurston Moore pays tribute to Steve Albini

The Sonic Youth guitarist hails the late Albini as “a person of passion and contradiction”.

Thurston Moore and Steve Albini

Image: Martyn Goodacre / Jim Bennett / Getty Images

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Thurston Moore has remembered Steve Albini in a moving tribute celebrating the life of the recording engineer and the indelible mark he left in the hearts of musicians worldwide. Albini passed away on 7 May at the age of 61, having suffered a heart attack at his recording studio Electric Audio.

“Like the music he adored and devoted his life to – punk and experimental action, suspect and resistant to any semblance of exploitation – Steve Albini was a person of passion and contradiction,” Moore describes lovingly.

The pair first met when Albini’s punk rock band Big Black came to New York City in the early 80s, and would go on to develop a life-long camaraderie.

“While his recent self-analysis on social media would express regret for youthful insolence it never proffered apology; his writing, as such, was always humanist, knowing that our lives are in a constant state of flux and learning,” he writes. “If any ideology could be seen as essential to Steve I always saw it to be communitarianism. Fighting the good fight. At least that’s the sense I got from knowing him back in the old days.”

Moore continues: “A huge, huge light, a stick of dynamite in shredded low-top sneakers, skin tight ripped dungarees and a torn Rudimentary Peni t-shirt in our micro-community of marginalised music has moved on. Yesterday’s news was a shock, heartbreaking, we will truly miss him here.”

“Button pushing moves by naming his band the worst name imaginable or album and song titles intended to trash whatever nihilist energy they claimed to own were obviously the audacious actions of a provocateur. Publicly chastising his contemporaries alongside the dinosaurs of high-profile culture was an invitation to discourse (if not outright humiliation). He was always ready to throw down.”

“His music, his guitar style, his amp settings, they were all primal attacks, and they were all with a huge heart of love behind the machine, well-oiled and assured. Steve seriously listened, studied, and watched. No matter what level of intimacy one would have with him through the years (we hardly connected much after the mid 90s or so – only crossing paths on various festival shows, saying hey, knowing each other well enough like cousins through the years) there’d always be some propensity for an enlightened exchange whether it be in regards to the values of variable genres of music and nature, or the distinct vagaries between the myriad options of Chicago taquerias, Steve had answers and he had pronouncements. He was always right, even when he was wrong.”

Read the full tribute below.


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