Body/Head - 'Coming Apart'
Body/Head is Kim Gordon’s latest sonic venture, this time teaming up with avant garde musician Bill Nace. Fittingly titled Coming Apart, it is a dark, instrumentally minimalist, addition to Gordon’s extensive work, whilst being mighty noisy and unstructured. Interestingly enough, the album is named after a 1969 movie which was filmed in one apartment on a single angle, reflecting the duo's use of only a guitar each in creating the album, the singular approach is certainly a challenging one. It is the first work we have really heard from Gordon since her dissolution from genre creators Sonic Youth, and split from long-time husband (and Sonic Youth co-creator) Thurston Moore.
Coming Apart is a ravaged set of songs, featuring little more than layered guitar tracks and those trademark Kim Gordon spoken vocal lines. There’s plenty of work in these songs, in the background, hiding behind ghostly vocals and Nico-era The Velvet Underground guitar work lie intricately crafted noise, sometimes jumping out at you to the forefront, other times, such as in opening track 'Abstract', slowly building through the addition of extra sounds until finally all hell breaks loose and couple-minute-long abstract noise jams come to the forefront.
Standout tracks include 'Aint' [sic] and 'Actress', the former a spectacular slowly building jam feauting some very well thought out guitar work feauturing some very strong tremolo and distortion, giving it a very dark feel to match the very dark lyrical matter. The imagery evoked in this song is troubling to say the least, and this is further compounded by the sprawling yet subtle guitar work and feedback put on by the duo. 'Actress' is the most rockin’ track of the album, which definitely says something about how unrock their work is. At just over 5 minutes, it is one of the most constantly-interesting tracks, by that I mean it is their least-minimalist work, the guitars are slightly louder, riff orientated, the vocals coming to the front a little more too.
The running lengths of the last two track is bizzare with, 'Black' and 'Frontal', lasting for half an hour between them. Although nowhere near being bad songs, I feel as if these tracks would be better of as a separate release, because, especially in album closer 'Frontal', the progression of the work resembles an album in itself; The change in tone, speed and emotion evident as it winds down the path towards noise nirvana. I do feel as though the business of ending an album with two very long tracks is dangerous territory however, one could argue that the length is required to venture into unknown territory with such noisy tracks; There is never any obvious repetition or dead time but "Frontal' would be more suited to possibly an EP release.
Given the narrow focus on sounds, I expected to be un-interested in such a narrow end product. However, Body/Head explore the soundscape available to them and use plenty of reverb and echo on Gordon’s vocals to use it as another instrument in itself. Overall, Coming Apart will be a challenging listen for anyone who isn’t drawn toward dirgey guitars, walls of noise, Gordon’s monotone drawl and oscillating feedback. Whilst obviously referencing her older work, Body/Head here present an alternative take on the noise-rock genre, one for those who don’t like it to have any resemblance to rock at all, post noise-rock if you will.
7.5/10 Nace/Gordon Faces