Sparse and experimental, Kim Gordon’s post-breakup project Body/Head finds her and her collaborator Bill Nace in quite the mood for a return to dissonance, and little else. The double album, Coming Apart is truly a task to sit through. Though Gordon is truly a giant presence in the realm of experimental rock music, this album seems to add little to her palette. Most of the album seems like the apprenticeship of the budding noise-maker, not the varied and nuanced work of something who has really expanded the possibilities of noise.
“Abstract” is an excellent tone setter in this regard, as for six minutes of free form experimentation, Gordon intones the single line “I can only think of you in the abstract” several times with a voice that sounds like it’s only waiting on death’s final rattle. Obviously, an album such as this has to be approached a little differently, as there is invariably less of a precedent set on melody, beat and other more conventional staples of modern popular music. However, there is music of this nature that succeeds in being at least interesting in various different ways, and for a plethora of different reasons. That is not the case here. Very little here is interesting in the long term, or even on a moment to moment basis. There are no pleasant surprises, unforeseen epiphanies or the like.
Even on the full breath’s worth of the nearly eleven-minute “Black,” the track plods, then sloths, then plods directionless, abandoning any scent of hook shortly after it is discovered. The thing that seems most disappointing is that the whole bent of theses performances feel more labored than natural and, at times, almost border on the satirical. If there was to be a Spinal Tap-like documentary based on the discordant and existential clattering of a noise band, this would seem like the result.
Very little on this album demands a repeat lesson, as even when a track like “Actress” fills out a little more of the aural and aesthetic space available to it, there remains little you can take away from it that at the very least, you haven’t heard done better by other bands, or by Gordon herself. This is not an album that will make anyone want to start a band. And though one could argue that Gordon no longer needs to have a hand in producing such works when she has classic albums like Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation and Sister under her belt, one is left with the feeling that this is merely an album of catharsis for the sake of catharsis.
What has fueled these ten cathartic releases is anyone’s guess, and as I am sure that some of the lyrics will birth plenty of assumptions from the press and fans alike, one can feel that in some ways, the catharsis was a success. However, as an album of music, Coming Apart‘s successes are little to none, and tread in stagnant water that pales in comparison to the music Gordon has proven herself capable of making.