Review Summary: The end of everything is the beginning of a brand new everything.
A few days ago, I had a little discussion with a friend. She mantained that instrumental music was superior to music with lyrics, because the second didn’t let her “drift away”. I told her that she wasn’t listening to the correct lyricists, because she clearly hadn’t understood that that is the exact intention of good poetry: to take anyone far beyond any one “here”.
Cue the appearance of Between Bodies, The World Is…’s controversial new EP which merges the band’s trademark spacey and unapologetically corny music with just as spacey and unapologetically corny spoken word poetry. Corny happens to be a praise
here: one of the reasons this band’s music is so powerful is precisely that they geniunely believe in what they shout and whisper--which unlike 99% of emo, isn't merely teenage melancholy, but existential
melancholy and the quest for embracing the whole of life a la Nietzsche (if you need proof, reread their complete band name)--and they aren’t afraid if you find them a bit ridiculous: just because it’s a bit ridiculous, and a bit out there, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. In this very sense, I could hardly fathom a better fit for their poet than Chris Zizzamia: his cosmos imagery and using of atoms as metaphors for unity, chance and immortality might just make one or two Carl Sagan fanboys shed a tear.
Yet the marriage sadly isn’t as perfect as it should be. The first problem is that Chris Zizzamia's voice is somewhat lacking. Spoken word artists, much like vocalists, are meant to have a certain control over what the emotion of their voices invoke, and Zizzamia falls a bit flat. It always sound like he’s talking (though not shouting) from the top of his lungs, but this doesn’t always translate into making one feel like he’s screaming from the bottom of his heart.
But the main problem is that the songs don’t feel like a completely unified statement. It’s just too obvious that the band is playing around
Zizzamia’s compositions--which is to say that there’s no seamless integration of all the elements at play (even if the elements themselves are actually quite good, the band laying down some of their most intricate aural textures yet). In fact, the EP contains one song that accidentally proves this by providing a counter-example: the last track, autotonsorialist, is exactly how a merge of spoken poetry and The World is…’s music as one hollistic artistic statement should be. It starts with a subdued intro that prepares the landscape for a consistent, brief poem which itself prepares for the track’s rising climax, in which various layers of David F. Bello’s singing play against the other. Every one strength of the band and the poet are very effectively
displayed, if perhaps not to their maximum potential.
Great music fused with spoken word can be done right and has in fact been done countless times before, for milennia
; the talented and evokative The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die are well on their way, but not quite there yet. One can already feel what Between Bodies's place in their discography will be looked back as: neither a disaster nor a groundbreaking stylistic shift, but merely an imperefect execution of a good idea.