Posts Tagged ‘Thrill Jockey Records’

Thrill Jockey – 29th January 2021

The sheer quantity of The Body’s output – often produced collaboratively – is little short of astounding, and since coming together some 20 years ago the duo comprising Lee Buford and Chip King have forged a reputation as masters of noise, and, as their biography attests, they’ve ‘consistently challenged assumptions and defied categorisation, redefining what it means to be a heavy band’.

There is no question that I’ve Seen All I Need To See is heavy: listening to it from beginning to end truly hurts.

It opens with crushing slabs of overloading distortion backing a monotone spoken-word piece. The juxtaposition of the blank, the bland, and the speaker-breaking blasts of bass-orientated menace is difficult to process, and that’s before the screaming demon-howl vocal begins howling its hellish anguish into the dense, murky mix of thunderous drums and bowel-churning low-end. ‘Lament’ is six minutes of pure heavyweight abrasion that tears at the guts and the soul. Every cymbal crash is an explosion, the decay distorted by deep bass detonations as it trudges doomily onwards – or down. Down. Down.

Everything simply splinters and overloads on the punishing single release, ‘Tied Up and Locked In’, which is a whole next level of heavy shit, a churning mess of overloading noise that’s utterly brain-pulping.

If the prospect of a slower song, which arrives as the album’s third track, Eschatological Imperative’, suggests some kind of respite, you’re going to be disappointed: slower, yes, but it’s a dirgy wall of noise that’s nothing short of overloading in every sense. It’s horrible, painful, but utterly perfect in fulfilling its purpose: there is no respite here, only pain, and pain articulated through brutal sound. ‘Pain of Knowing’ is so dense and dark, you could almost cry in the hope of a return to ignorance. A low, griding bass feedback noter hangs for eternity and rings a resonating pain, and the reminder that knowledge isn’t power, it’s pain.

The pain continues with the percussion-dominated slow throb of ‘The City is Shelled’, which crawls, bloodied, into the kind of territory occupied by Swans circa 1984, with crushingly slow beats and a buzzing bass that practically swallows everything. It’s a trajectory continued by on ‘They Are Coming’, a stop/start piece that’s utterly obliterative. The stops leave you hanging: the starts make your stomach lurch. There isn’t a moment’s respite or implicit kindness here. Hearing the bass drum downtune into a morass of distorted extranea and broken bass on ‘The handle The Blade’ is a most physical experience, and one that’s only heighted by the final track, ‘The Path of Failure’ which is utterly crushing. It’s megalithically, slow, and heavy, but also dark and punishing, and when noise does erupt on ‘The Path of Failure’ it does wo with a slow, brutal violence

I’ve Seen All I Need To See is a distillation of pain, and the production and mastering takes that to the max, to the point that I repeatedly found myself checking my connections and cables and even my speakers. In short, I’ve Seen All I Need To See is as brutal as anything you’ll hear, a work of total sonic overload.

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Thrill Jockey Records – 17th November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The second collaborative album between The Body and Full of Hell, which collides with the earth like a meteor, and a mere 18 months after its predecessor, and just six months after Full of Hell’s full-tilt annihilation that was Trumpeting Ecstasy, it’s every bit as unremitting and remorselessly heavy as anything previous. It’s the sound of two uncompromising bands finding compromise by amplifying one another to the nth degree, meaning that Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is fucking intense, fucking heavy, and yes, even more fucking intense.

The accompanying blurb forewarns that ‘samples, synth, saxophone, and a drum orchestra all throb, and sputter, coagulating under the weight of the two bands. Programmed drum patterns and loops taking cues from hip hop are bent and twisted throughout, flawlessly emboldening the distortion drenched guitars and howling vocals.’ And did I mention that it’s intense?

Beyond the first few seconds of skittering synth oscillations, there is no light on the opening track, ‘Light Penetrates’. The crushing power chords land at tectonic pace, while the vocals – an impenetrable scream of anguish – are nothing more than a primal scream of pain. And then the jazz shit beaks loose, with horns squealing like tortured pigs bleeding in all directions.

There’s nothing pretty about this, but occasionally, from amidst the screeding walls of amorphous racket emerge full-throttle stoppers, like the pounding ‘Earth is a Cage’. Elsewhere, ‘Didn’t the Night End’ is a snarling, grinding, bowel-shaking racket of surging waves of noise that simply hurt. It’s the kind of snarling, grinding, bowel-shaking racket that makes you want to lie on the floor and curl up into a foetal position. It makes you want to die, and it certainly makes you long for the night – and the noise – to end, as it assails the senses from every angle.

The drum intro is nabbed from oh, so many tracks – a simple four-four thump of a drum machine bass – before everything explodes in a tempest of screaming industrial-metal fury. Early Pitchshifter come to mind, at least in the drum programming, but this is something altogether more psychotic in its unbridled fury, and in its amalgamation of paired-back hip-hop and industrial metal, all crackling with overloading distortion, ‘Master’s Story’ invited comparisons to the innovations of Godflesh – at least until it goes all crushing doom halfway through.

As with anything produced by either band, either independently or collaboratively, Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is not music for pleasure, and large chunks are little short of anti-music, blistering walls of sonic brutality built on discord with the most challenging of tones and frequencies explored to the max.

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