While music is one of our greatest vehicles for entertainment, it is capable of presenting experiences of immense emotional immersion. These latter experiences are what make art so fascinating, and give it that power to connect with so many individuals. Work such as this is what makes me think of Portland, Oregon's The Body. Composed of Lee Buford and Chip King, The Body is a haunting act that take their music to nightmarish realms.
You may already know them given the numerous splits they’ve released with such bands as Full Of Hell and Thou. Their previous record, No One Deserves Happiness, was described as a "gross pop record." Using beat productions one would find in mainstream pop and hip-hop, it wove in grotesque blends of jarring distortion and nerve-racking vocals. The Body takes inspirations from all facets of art, and rather than try and create something for the sake of general entertainment, their work provokes one to think and feel. Their brand new LP, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, is a theatrical exploration of pain, depression, and darkness. Its atmospheric approach is that of cinematic quality, using song technicality and emotion that encompasses multiple genres.
From frantic waves of distortion, vocal screeching, and energetic pop drum beats, The Body tosses a lot at its listener. Each song is either meant to purposely create a sense of anxiety, or ease the listener into a state of bleak emptiness. The album’s title is an excerpt of famous writer Virginia Wolfe’s suicide letter. This title, and its context offer an understanding of what to expect from I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer.
“The Last Form Of Loving” drones in on a murky electronic rumbling. Melancholy strings begin to rise over this rumble, singing coming through to give an off unsettling serenity. The following track, “Can Carry No Weight”, immediately follows this without missing a beat. The electronic fuzz lingers with a minimal presence, as the use of strings begin to blanket the track. The clean singing continues alongside the appearance of banshee-like screeches. While later songs include more hectic instrumentation, these first couple songs show the outstanding meditative quality The Body is capable of. The droning sections throughout the album are there to provide a more serene moment of contemplation, while still adding to the chaos.
The record includes collaborations from Chrissy Wolpert of Assembly of Light Choir, Ben Eberle of Sandworm, and Kristin Hayter of Lingua Ignota. These contributions bring a variety of vocal and instrumental work that builds upon the already extravagant chemistry of The Body. From electronic music to bombastic pop and elegant classical sections, The Body is always weaving in something new. All this technicality continues to feed into the record’s themes of dread and pain.
“The West Has Failed” takes the flavor of rave music, adding a touch of industrial flair. The drumbeat picks up, adding to the momentum of the progression. The flow is hypnotic with blurs of distortion ringing throughout, the overall contribution being the energetic drum beats. Another component of the work comes from the poeticism of the lyrics. The first few lines of “Off Script” start with, “What have you left that stirs you so/ what so affects you/ a voice that truly moves and you to be moved in return.” These lyrics present an extra layer to the album’s disturbing nature. While one may find themselves in a trance through the music’s meditative aura, the lyrics jump out, including an existential weight on top of the droning.
“Blessed, Alone” begins on dense waves of distortion, but then enters this heartbreaking piano section. The lyrics state, “For these things, I weep / A lifetime of kneeling / Beg and plead.” With the introduction of strings, booming distortion, and vocal growls, the track becomes a monstrous combination of hysteria and sorrow.
I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer is a remarkable work of technical innovation and emotion. The record has the qualities of a breathtaking film soundtrack; the material entertains you as much as it makes you shiver with feeling. The Body is unlike so many of the acts that exist today. Their work will ask much of you. It’ll ask you for your trust, and your emotions.