It’s hard to escape what you’re known for when you’re trying to make something new. In this case, sometimes its best to do what you’re known for and try to push it a little further into a new direction. Kim Gordon, former member of Sonic Youth, and Bill Nace, experimental guitarist from Massachusetts, help push the noise envelope to a new page. But instead of being loud and in your face, their attempt is softer and more of a warm embrace. A new approach to a familiar sound.
Coming Apart (2013) is the debut album for Body/Head. At times it is haunting and quite atmospheric, loads of reverb and distortion is obviously present. Spoken word poetry is thrown in between strikes and walls of noise. It helps translate the emotion across, which in this case is mostly frustration. But there are quiet moments that leave you alone with your thoughts. And that can be dangerous, but thankfully they’re guided through by Gordon and Nace.
The crazy aspect of these recordings, to me, is that there is no drums or any form of beat present. But it’s not a crazy concept, after all Prince removed the bass line from When Doves Cry and it still sounds amazing. It’s all waves of sound hitting you. So a song like Last Mistress or Actress is really strong on just repetitive guitar and vocal rhythms. Another example is the 17 minute Frontal, which relies on Gordon’s vocals to give you some form of rhythmic pattern along with musical build ups and descends. Of course, all mixed with a large collection of noise.
Honestly, that’s the only thing that bothers me. The noise is all something we’ve heard before. I understand the short, or normal length, songs being loaded with noise. But the two excessively long songs, Frontal (17:14) and Black (13:20), are just enveloped in that familiar Sonic Youth sound. It’s typical too, so it’s nothing to be wow’d about or even wonder about. But what makes it work well is when you listen to the album from beginning to end. I don’t think that jumping back and forth between songs will help appreciate Coming Apart the way it should be.
This double LP is designed by Matt de Jong and assisted by Sean Kaufman. Matt is a seasoned album art director, who has designed covers for bands like Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter, Cat Power among others. The Coming Apart package is completely black and white, with Body/Head on the cover in red. And on the inside, where the records are stored, it’s the same color of red. A very nice surprise, for a monochromatic design. The grittiness of the cover photograph, taken by blank blank, and the inside photo by Dave Markey are complimented by the texture of the sleeve. The photographs on the LP labels are by Vice Cooper and are also in red. Just like the music, there are moments that pop out, that’s what the red does.
Overall, this is something for those who are used to Sonic Youth’s music but want something a bit more different. I don’t think this is a great introduction to noise, but it definitely is an album to be introduced to afterwards. It’s a bit slow and moody, which is something that I like. But I wish there were some beats thrown in. Also, making it a bit faster. I like how slow it is but the music drowns into the background at times. Maybe in the next album? Who knows, it’s all experimental and that’s what keeps it interesting. Anything is possible, and the next step will show yet another side of something that is familiar.
Hayman & Hill – Chardonnay [Russian River Valley, California 2007]
Here’s a great wine to compliment this album. Hayman & Hill Chardonnay Russian River Valley is a smooth and robust wine. It’s not dry, it leans more into the buttery side with small hints of acidity. This is a great wine to introduce to someone curious about Chardonnays. The smoothness of this bottle is perfect to be had alone or with food. Something to really watch for is the amount of time you have this bottle chilled. So keep your eye on the amount of time it’s being chilled, but overall enjoy at your favorite temperature.
Vinyl & Vino rating: 2 out of 5
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