Review Summary: A meditation on distortion
The Body have always been experts in headfuckery. While many bands strut their own heavy qualities, very few have made the pushing of boundaries their motto. Thank fuck The Body are there to remind us of the brittleness of established limits. The duo - Lee Buford on drums and programming, Chip King on guitar and vocals - built their music by juxtaposing deafening drums, oppressive guitars, inhumane vocals, eerie textures, abundant distortion, bleak atmosphere, and discordant explosions. From this association of all things ugly, they have incorporated over the years female chants, strings, and choirs, but I've Seen All I Need To See
is the band stripping away all ornaments to deliver their most impenetrable release. This process was completed by excluding almost all presence of outsider musicians, apart from the spare appearances of vocalist/pianist Chrissy Wolpert and vocalist Ben Eberle.
This denudation does not mean there no longer is any trace of the most uplifting and cathartic power of the band’s music. The first track "A Lament" sounds like a typical The Body smasher, if such a thing existed. First, the mood is to be set. Tension rises as spoken pieces accompany thriving toms before Chip King's shrieks take the piece into total cacophony. The track concludes in an unmelodic fashion that is nevertheless not devoid of emotional power, and that is exactly what fans have been waiting for whenever the duo drops another release. Some tracks do hint at other directions: "The City Is Shelled" sees the band wondering how to integrate 80s darkwave into their diagram of headaches, while "Tied Up and Locked In" almost feels catchy - spoiler, you won't sing along to it though. Groove, a component rarely found in The Body's sound, is assembled through droning distortion in an industrial sculpture of interweaving noises. Despite these attempts at diversifying their artistic proposition, all tracks make sure they never let feedback decrease in volume.
Indeed, if this new album distinguishes itself from the others, it is by its constant focus on distortion. The first step was to simplify the songwriting by coming back to the band’s core live sounds - guitar and drums. From that stance, drummer Lee Buford mostly avoids cymbals, most of the job being done by toms and snares. That rhythmic structure is put to tape, which would be sent back in, then re-used, etc. Every step's goal is to max everything and get the one substantial marrow: distortion. While this multitiered process constitutes a new work attitude, this is a return to The Body's monolithic sludge approach, except this time the sludge is completely absorbed by the drone and electronic aesthetic. Each piece of gear was pushed to its limit, and when the breaking point was to be heard, they knew it: it was that
sound they were looking for.
With thus more focus than ever on drone and power electronics, this newest record does everything possible to be remembered as the Rhode Island duo’s noisiest and most terrifying album. Now, another question arises: will it end up being remembered as their least subtle recent release? This is without a doubt monumental, but at times too determined to be infernal - "Path of Failure" can be considered as nothing more than a jumble of violent textures bumping into each other for five minutes. In such instances when the minimalist method takes the lead, the sense of song construction is somewhat lost, violence becoming too
The Body have so accustomed us to evolve from one output to another that this return to less expansive sounds may seem, at first glance, a little disappointing. As an enormous fan of their past two releases, I would have wanted an album that would have drawn from the choirs and strings elements to expand the band's soundscape into apocalyptic proportions. But this is my
problem if I let my own expectations exceed the actual result. Buford and King wanted to create the noisiest album their deranged minds could come up with? Bravo
, they did it. Notwithstanding any personal appreciations, this album will remain completely unique in their discography. I've Seen All I Need To See
manages to sufficiently differentiate itself to remain, at least until their next output, The Body's record that sinks deepest into the most distorted zones of their sound spectrum. Everything we could have hoped for, we got: a new album distinct from the others, driven by its own visceral, disgusting energy.