The new noise/drone/art-rock duo Body/Head is actually comprised of two elders on the scene, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame and Bill Nace who runs Open Mouth Records out of Northampton, Massachusetts. The pair has lived in these experimental waters all their lives combining forces on this dense, layered and challenging release that only features guitars and vocals.
Initially starting out as purely instrumental and freeform the group has tried to rein it in to construct “songs” putting a spotlight on Gordon’s vocals which even at the best of times have been polarizing. On recent Sonic Youth efforts she seemed to be leaning more mainstream in her singing, here she can get as abrasive as any of her and Nace’s six-string augmentations.
Not to say there isn’t glory in her (at times) awkward phrasing, but things are more intriguing on Coming Apart when the guitars take the forefront. Album opener “Abstract” repeats a ghost like vocal phrase in front of eerie guitar lines filtering in and out (this would make a good horror movie soundtrack) while “Everything Left” cackle’s before breaking down, then noisily rises from the sonic ashes. The elongated disk closer “Frontal” plays with popping odd distant low-end, over gorgeous melodic phrases that sparkle and “Actress” contains more guttural yearnings and moaning from Gordon in front of acidic guitars; the duo has expressed interest in putting emotion into drone music and that is accomplished here.
The dissolving of Gordon’s marriage is a personal matter, but like on Thurston Moore’s recent effort, it is hard not to take things away from song titles and lyrics. Of course tracks like “Murderess”, Last Mistress” and “Actress” may have nothing to do with the situation or Moore’s infidelity, but when they come back to back containing lines like “The last mistress/Dog’s when they piss/To mark their territory” it is hard not to wonder. “Black” has an elongated intro before Gordon sings “Black is the color of my true loves hair” repeating the phrase over lo-fi outro that goes on and on; Moore’s blonde mop top seems to be far from her mind.
The buzzing “Ain’t” combines the best of everything on Coming Apart. Starting out post guitar fizzles Gordon finds herself talking about the things she ain’t got no more, bottoming out in echoes while questioning God but then instantly (and positively) shifts into what she does have. “I got my freedom/I’m gonna keep it/Nobody’s gonna take my freedom away” ends her lists of possessions before the track continues with 2 more minutes of white guitar clangs. Freedom is Gordon’s and Nace’s, it will continue to be exciting to where it leads them.