The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat (1968), 8/10

My personal favorite work from The Velvet Underground and so wonderfully experimental in its singular use of depraved narrative, raw noise and dynamic distortion. There was not a more ambitious project in the sixties, and it sounds equally as enthralling and adventurous as it must have among its contemporaries. While rather simple and akin to its preceding album’s theme, the opening title track is catchy and elevated by its sheer wall of sound. "The Gift" is one of my favorite stories formed in song, backed with stirring and jarring instrumentals that explore space beyond the traditional structures that the band had previously used. The first side of this record is consistently exhilarating, while in the back half "Sister Ray" shatters any preconceived notions of rock music in a beautifully clamorous package. Cale’s experiments with feedback give it an individual and guttural appeal as a wonderfully ugly collection of rock anthems and poems, transcending any previous potential heard from the group. “Lady Godiva’s Operation”, while it can appear purely grating in moments, serves as a perfect balancing act among the track list after a hard-hitting melody and an extended novelty tale, before its launch into pure noise. Its first half, however, is merely an introduction to the massive and vexing seventeen-minute sound experiment that is “Sister Ray” with an always relevant allusion to the underbelly of modern society. It travels an impressive amount of sonic ground in a breathtaking journey ranging from wonderfully cacophonous to genuinely disturbing. White Light/White Heat is almost undoubtedly the band’s most ambitious endeavor and simultaneously its most successful. While perhaps a tighter package, The Velvet Underground & Nico is to me the expanding of sonic and thematic possibility before the pinnacle of the band’s sound reached on White Light/White Heat.