Album review: Body/Head

Body/Head - No Waves (Matador)

Bill Nace and Kim Gordon.

Bill Nace and Kim Gordon.

IN HIS despair MacBeth chastised humans, and thereby life, as "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Kim Gordon's music has long been driven by "sound and fury" but is certainly not meaningless.

Whether in Sonic Youth, or in her new band Body/Head (with guitarist Bill Nace ) Gordon has used abstract sound as artistic expression - the aural equivalent of Abstract Expressionism. Where others hear only noise, she sees a way to both challenge traditional music structures and use dissonance to make emotional connections.

No Waves, the cleverly punning title to follow-up 2013 debut Coming Apart, was recorded in concert at the Bijou Theater, during the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. It features three tracks - two around the seven/eight minute mark and the near 23 minute behemoth 'Abstract/Actress'.

For some, this will simply be 40 minutes of feedback. To these ears though, it is a 40 minute exercise in how atonality and electric distortion can, in the right hands, appeal to both the imagination and the emotion, because of its abstract nature. Stripped of musicality and melody, it is a blank slate through which different ideas and interpretation can arise - soundtracks for emotional landscapes and internal films of the mind. A surprise touch comes in the harmonica wails that punctuate the music unexpectedly.

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