Blastic Scene (Live in Lisbon 1993) was a semi-official bootleg, now unleashed via Bandcamp, celebrating 26 years of Sonic Youth’s 1994 album, Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star.
In many ways, Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star is a revelatory album for the group. Songs such as “Bull In the Heather,” “Self-Obsessed and Sexxee,” and “In the Mind of the Bourgeois Reader” distil the sharp songwriting honed between 1988’s Daydream Nation through 1992s Dirty with the roughly-hewn drone and clatter of 1985’s Bad Moon Rising.
Blastic Scene captures a live, 17-song set, recorded July 14, 1993, in a bullring in Campo Pequeno, Lisbon. The recording stamps in time Sonic Youth’s first ever concert in Portugal. It also offers an early snapshot of many of the songs that later ended up on Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No Star when they were still works in progress.
The texture and the urgency that binds a number like “Skink” to careening renditions of “100%,” “Screaming Skull,” and “Sugar Kane” underscores the symbiotic flow and propulsive motion of the group’s larger vision.
“Starting around the time of Daydream we loved taking new material out and playing it live a few times before we recorded the new songs in the studio,” says drummer Steve Shelley. “Sometimes [we’d do it] in smaller clubs like the original Knitting Factory, where we previewed early Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No songs during an Ecstatic Peace! showcase, and later at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Boston where we played Daydream Nation material before it was recorded as the Steve Shelley Experience.”
For this summer of ’93 European festival tour, the group rolled out five or six Experimental, Jet Set, Trash and No songs each night. “Playing the songs live before we recorded helped see what worked—it’s kind of like sink or swim—either the material worked or it didn’t and needed more help in the rehearsal room,” Shelley says.
The Blastic Scene recordings were previously released in Portugal via Moneyland Records in 1995. A portion of the CD pressing was made available via the group’s Sonic Death fan club and zine.
The recording, mastered by then unknown producer and electronic and avant-garde music composer and performer Rafael Toral captures all of the atmosphere and the energy in one cohesive swoop.