Dark, heavy and uniquely cathartic
Death is always just around the corner. A lurker in the shadows of an alleyway, the scrunched up floor mat beneath a brake pedal, a cell phone in the hand of someone who “never saw you in the crosswalk.” The Body and all of their collaborations are constant reminders of the state of human fragility; their gripping lack of melody, visceral bass punches and bone-chilling shrieks attack listeners with an urgent ferocity that remains impactful even when it is difficult to listen to. Their latest collaboration with Uniform delves deeper into the darkness, crafting a listening experience draped in shadows and desperation, yet in that smothering black, it finds its place as the most accessible The Body has ever been.
It takes only an instant to realize the sheer potential of this collaboration. “Dead River” begins with a spiraling hiss of synth surrounded by a sludgy layer of static wash. The concoction is quickly joined by the signature tribal drums that Uniform is known for, adding a sense of pace and intent that is often missing on projects by The Body. Chip King’s signature wail is sufficiently drowned out by the cacophony, rendering it to the role of an accent piece rather than the ear-splitting force that it often is on solo records. Yet for all its accomplishments, this track is only a taste of things to come.
“The Curse of Eternal Life” affords Uniform more space than the previous track, and they are well at home with their new partners in crime. Every vocal is filtered through a vicious synth layer that makes it sound as though both singers were drowning as they recorded their lines. The pounding drum would be befitting of a club were it not for the smothering layer of noise heartily ladled atop the track. While the harsh noise is more than ample, as the track progresses it rises steadily around a jet engine synth that would be right at home on a HEALTH album. Underneath all the noise is an endearingly danceable jazz drum beat that pushes the track through many of its more abrasive moments.
Around the center of the album, listeners may find a reprieve from the intensity in “Come and See.” The track is much sludgier and lethargic than its predecessors. It also boasts more minimal contributions from King, which may come as a saving grace to many listeners; for while he is well utilized on the record, his wail is often far more than most listeners can stomach. This track feels almost as though it was a more experimental take on a track by Sleep, given its plodding, feedback-laden nature— though Uniform’s cutting howls still signify it as a product of their delightfully messed-up imagination.
Perhaps the most Uniform-influenced track on the record is “The Boy With Death in His Eyes.” It possesses their signature driving drumbeats and grinding guitars, with a little more than a helping of industrial dance thrown in. The bridges featuring The Body are identifiable from each other, but the cleverly stuttered production leading into King’s shriek effectively delineates the groups while managing to blend their best elements.
Listeners who came for some sweet industrial jams with a hint of noise should disembark from the album after “The Boy With Death in His Eyes.” The latter half of the album is much more focused on The Body. “In My Skin” feels like a transition piece between the forceful drums of Uniform and the meandering static of The Body, but it is easily the clumsiest track on the record. Its dreamy, glistening strings feel out of place beneath the hefty static crunch of the track, and generally detract from the atmosphere the album had (up until now) curated so masterfully.
Luckily, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” is a jaw-dropping redemption of the record. The whole of the track is a roiling static crescendo futilely attempting to drown out an incomprehensible radio transmission. While the track may play well in headphones, it is of utmost importance this track be listened to on a bass favoring sound system as the sub-bass notes on the track will threaten to rattle the foundation of any building, particularly in the closing moments of the track.
Sending off the record is “Empty Comforts,” a perfect culmination of each group’s musical philosophy in a single song. Pounding techno drums move the track along through a wispy layer of harsh synth, creating an intoxicating dreamscape that the listener is violently yanked out of halfway through as a bass-heavy feedback line grumbles into the mix. The disorientation is short lived as the music crescendos in an almost shoegaze manner before closing out to the blissful whine of amplifier feedback.
The Body, and by extension Uniform, do not make music for anyone. Instead, they play for primordial forces beyond our understanding. Yet when one listens closely, in the din they can hear their name whispered to them. No part of this record is truly approachable, yet it is The Body’s most accessible piece of work to date. There’s a cathartic intoxication to be found in the madness of this record. So lean in close and take a long swig, after all, it’s good for you.