On this first week of October Ourvinyl chooses to take a look at the brand new album from Neil Young. For this album, ‘Le Noise,’ it is reported that Mr. Young would record only when there was a full moon out. That would be taken as farce for most artists, but not Neil, it’s probably true. This album could also accurately be called ‘Neil’s noise’ due to the fact that each song consists solely of Neil’s guitar and his words, albeit heavily effected at times.
Is this album it is readily apparent that Neil is trying to create for a certain sonic experience, one that draws you deeply into his sonic world, so that you listen to what he has to say. He talks about loss, war, drugs, memories and of course somethings whose meaning has been blurred due to heavy metaphor. In Hitchhiker, while fuzzy guitars anchor the sound we descend into a personal story centering around Neil’s combined growth as a musician and as a taker of recreational chemicals, and learn what his overall life outlook was like at differing pivotal life moments. In Love and War we find a pleasant & simple acoustic song in which Neil explains how stories concerning love, war and peace all seem to stay the same through time, at least to him. Walk With Me is a song with an edgier and gritter electric sound that is clearly more about the music than the words, which remain more hallucinatory than informational.
Because this album is relegated to be an expression of solely Neil Young and his guitar (which apparently was sometimes a custom acoustic-electric and sometimes his big white electric Gretsch guitar from the 60’s), it gives the listener a very one-on-one musical experience. However, there also seems to be a considerable amount of psychedelia within these songs, which easily outweighs any folk influences – the type you might think Neil would lean toward in older age. One cannot be sure if Neil is feeling nostalgic for the mid 60’s, found himself an old vile in the freezer and helped himself to it, or is just inspired by the resurgence of the popular acceptance of everything “trippy” – but either way he has indeed infused a certain amount of fuzz, reverb, and close sonic attention with the sound of each song on ‘Le Noise.’
To be sure this album is one that is best enjoyed when in a certain mood, probably when one is feeling more reserved and contemplative and doesn’t feel the need the for the type of order that drums brings to music. And frankly, if you aren’t in that mood – you might not understand this album. ‘Le Noise’ might be best enjoyed as background music, or on long quiet car drives, or for late nights chilling in the backyard (something like that, you get that point). But if you enjoy Neil Young, or music made from just one man and his trusted instrument, then this new album should find its way to your play list.