Album review: Body/Head

Body/Head - The Switch (Matador)

Kim Gordon.

Kim Gordon.

THE SECOND studio album from Body/Head - Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon and guitarist Bill Nace - is less a savage beast than their 2013 debut Coming Apart, but is no less confrontational, no less challenging.

Whereas Coming Apart and 2016 live album No Waves were guitar exercises in harsh electric ambience and atonality, The Switch refines that approach, but does not dilute it. Opening track 'Last Time' begins with three minutes of careful use of distortion, creating slow, pulsing, woozing, waves of sound, which sometimes run high, before plumbing back into the depths; eventually calming into unorthodox sounding chords and passages that recall The Velvet Underground, but go much farther than even that group did on White Light/White Heat, their most avant-rock album; before a third switch into long sustained notes (think the coda of Slayer's 'South Of Heaven', only longer ).

It is possible to argue that the tracks are more structured this time around, with the occasional intrusions of riffs and chords, amid the vast sonic soundscapes of abstract guitar, catching the ear unexpectedly and leading to new and arresting phases within each piece. More a composed set, than an improvisational one, yet this produces a greater appreciation of the freedom, imagination, and daring on display.

As ever, a Body/Head release is not for the faint hearted. This is heavy/underground/alternative rock at its most abstract and unforgiving. If you have the patience or openness for these soundtracks to internal films of the mind, the rewards plenty and the rewards are great.

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