Nobody understands The Body. Not even The Body understand The Body. It is a musical gesture pure and simple, with no need to be described and no reason to be judged. It is there and then, with no epistemological meaning whatsoever; it is an artistic expression lying on an imaginary floor deprived of attributes. Or full of attributes, which is the same thing. This duo of pain inflictors from Portland, Oregon, knows how to fiddle with cacophony while, at the same time, titillating your senses with moments of supreme beauty. Not happy with the description? Then you’ve never listened to “Even Saints Knew Their Hour of Failure and Loss” from their debut album All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, where the magnificent Assembly of Light Choir often – very often – emerged victorious from the miasma of screams and depravation, noise and sludge, distortion and misery.
The same applies here, on this Christs, Redeemers that is probably their best effort so far, following the interlocutory EP Master, We Perish which came out a few months ago, but which refused to venture beyond the purity of noise. There was no composition, no layers, no warp and weft to trap their music in. On the contrary, it was an exercise in free form music narrative: one that vanishes before you can even start to appreciate it. It was unlikable.
Things are slightly different this time. The Body try to speak a language we can vaguely understand and tracks are stripped down to their musical core. “Night of Blood in a World Without End”, for instance, sounds as Tim Hecker were composing next door to Sunn O))): strings and drones, act and potency. But it’s just a moment and the riff gains the stage, once again, accompanied by the drums’ apocalyptic blast, while the screams – half buried underneath this nihilistic blanket and rigorously in falsetto – are the only humanoid presence in this colossal wall of noise.
The duo’s pre-existing canons return with “An Altar or a Grave”, where the unearthly choral presence balances the brutality of the stabs inflicted by the instruments at a painfully slow pace. The same principles are applied to tunes like “Denial of the Species” and “Melt Away” where – we are sure Chip King and Lee Buford won’t take offence – the beauty expressed by the Assembly of Light Choir pushes everything else in the background in such a way that all you hear is an ensemble of female voices despite the war savagely raging around you.
The world needs The Body because – excuse my lack of tact – they fill the gap between music and its negation. It is musical expressionism, rather than rock and it is a dirty job that someone has got to do. One way or another. Even if the drones and the several coats of noise are like a Gregorian chant without voices and this is a musical sound driven at random by two fools. We don’t understand them and they don’t seem to care.