He is their Lebowski Rug.
He is their raison d'être, their drive, their focusing stone. Regardless of whichever way you'd like to look at it, there's no simple way Sonic Youth would be Sonic Youth if it hadn't been for the matched virtuosity of Ranaldo and Moore's guitars.
Born in 1956 in Long Island, Ranaldo has been making his mark in the music world since the '70's and, of course, most vividly within the ranks of Sonic Youth as a founding member following a stint with Glenn Branca's guitar outfit. And while this might be enough of a bio for anybody to feel pretty, pretty good in the "pat yourself on the back" kind of way, Ranaldo's also an accomplished artist, filmmaker, writer/memoirist, multi-instrumentalist, and, believe it or not, great collaborator.
Text of Light
Case in point would be his frequent print/visual works with his wife, Leah Singer (not to mention their children), their performance-art-oriented music duo Drift, as well as an impressive body of work with William Hooker, Steve Shelley, Moore, and others. He's also managed to record something in the vicinity of ten full-length efforts, a handful of EPs and singles, and the SY stuff since coming into American consciousness in 1980.
Although his work with the improvisational group Text of Light might be slightly more up the alley of film nerds and those prone to the avant garde, we'd recommend it solely as a witness of juxtaposition and artistic intention. Plus, the works of Stan Brakhage are true Americana.
Sadly, it was from his lips we learned last year about the band's hiatus following the Moore/Gordon split, but we can rest assured that regardless of what goes on in that bedroom, the Ranaldo one will constantly chuck and jive with buckets of creativity and good will, or at the very least, something you can get down with in a plethora of artistic disciplines. Ahh, we must thank the unquiet mind! Check out the track below from his upcoming album Between the Times and the Tides.
Lee Ranaldo - "Off the Wall"