For the second studio release from the experimental guitar noise duo Body/Head titled The Switch, the art rock lifers Kim Gordon and Bill Nace decided for a less structured approach than their debut Coming Apart. This decision leads to more ambient sound and wandering yet also coalesces the overall recording into a more cohesive full length listen that would work better without track delineations as one long pulsing organism.
None of the five efforts presented here are melodic or rhythmic; none are songs for that matter. Gordon and Nace play with feedback, clangs, droning dynamics and pedal effects throughout, moving where the distortion muse takes them. These sonic vistas, while slightly interesting, rarely achieve anything other than a dystopian sense of emptiness.
Unfortunately, Gordon doesn’t add much when it comes to singing, lyrics, or emotion. On the tracks where she verbalizes, her ghost-like vocals are warped and blended into the electronic buzzing of the six strings so her lyrics are not recognizable; the texture of her vocals are the added instrumentation.
Opening with pulsing waves of sound, “Last Time” starts the record as the vocals arrive halfway through. The atmospheric guitar work becomes blissful before ending with over a minute of high pitched buzzing which crackles speakers and annoys eardrums. The hum and pulses once again begin “You Don’t Need That” which puts Gordon’s vocals through various warbling production effects to close while “In The Dark Room” scratches and buzzes on the verge of industrial; not the genre, actual functioning machinery sounds from a factory floor or construction site.
The album ends with the duo’s two longest, and best excursions, as the style of Body/Head is most effective when the sound gets to repeat and submerge the listener. “Change My Brain” envelops with the ever-present warble but halfway through injects some ringing/fluttering effects; this tiny transition raises the offering above the others. “Reverse Hard” closes with a split personality, soft skittering to start before clanging swirling experimentation to finish.
The white noise can be affecting at times, but too often, especially on the first three “songs”, The Switch feels like awkward empty masturbation on knobs and pedals without any release in site. Diehards and feedback aficionados can dive into the buzz, drone, and hum, but others should skip this arty mood piece for more dynamic offerings.