Any attempt to classify Rhode Island duo The Body into a specific genre is sure to leave out some important aspect of their work. Combining aspects of hip-hop, classical, pop and electronica to there extremes gives the band an all-encompassing sound. Since 2004 Chip King and Lee Buford have used this unique sound to push the boundaries of music and to find new extremes to explore.
On their latest record, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, the duo find a new way to push their sound further by building their record on their own samples rather than processing their work later. This shift in composition leads to a record of sonic highs that only The Body could achieve.
Like most The Body records, an eerie vibe permeates every moment, strings feel like their coming from long-forgotten instruments and the bass rumbles in and out like a killer stalking its prey. This is where the duo really succeeds; the mood of their records is as thick and as dark as the outdoor scene on the cover.
The opener, ‘The Last Form of Living’, lures listeners in with a creepy drone before strings and drums swoop in. The voice of frequent collaborator Chrissy Wolpert wafts in singing of a “stillness in the world” and a “light that survives us” before being enveloped in static. It’s a bleak opener but one that perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the albums downtrodden songs.
While one might assume that because the tone of the album is so bleak the music might suffer from sameness, The Body are careful to use their many musical influences in their songs to give each a unique feeling. There is what one might call dance tracks (‘Can Carry No Weight’, ‘Sticky Heart of Sand’) more traditional metal tracks (‘The West Has Failed’) and even ones that have an almost hip-hop style beat to them (‘An Urn’).
When all these elements work in unison it creates pure dark magic like on the song ‘Nothing Stirs’. With its hip-hop flavoured drum kicks and ethereal backing vocals, it almost sounds like a twisted take on a dream pop song. But then those vocals turn to screams and Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) delivers a performance that sounds like someone entering the bowls of hell and fighting with every last breath to resist. It’s a harrowing track and showcases what a special band The Body can be when they’re at the top of their game.
The real downside to this record though is that while the songs here are good they lack a cohesion that would have made the impact of the record all the greater. The songs here act as vignettes of rage, which is fine in the moment and lends to glimpses of a greater power for the record but never quite mesh into a whole that would leave the listener gasping like their vocal contributors.
Still, though I Have Fought Against It is another solid record for a band that has continued to make solid music for over a decade now. The mood of a The Body record has never been bleaker, but one hopes that next time they work on uniting that bleakness into a greater black mass to consume us all.
I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer is out now via Thrill Jockey.