Since lockdown, it seems like existential dread is more prevalent than ever.
Many artists have used existential dread as primary themes to pour into their creations. Steve Von Till, Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, The Bug & Dis Fig are artists that spring to mind when the subject arises.
Portland Oregon’s The Body have always been a band that have challenged their audience and where the aforementioned subject is concerned, sonically, on their latest album, I’ve Seen All I Need To See, perhaps no other has captured it better.
Having drafted in a slew of artists over the years, not to mention the numerous collaboration records The Body have been a part of (most notably 2018’s Mental Wounds Not Healing and Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back with Uniform), on I’ve Seen All I Need To See, The Body have gone back to basics of sorts, simply as a drum and guitar duo.
While perhaps more ‘minimal’, still, The Body have established new ways to stretch the boundaries of their esoteric extremities – this time in the way of sound production.
Collaborating once again with producer Seth Manchester, I’ve Seen All I Need To See is like your favourite worst nightmare. The music is brutal. Intense. There’s singer/guitarist Chip King‘s withering howls that give you frostbite alongside suffocating distortion that has you in a choke-hold.
It’s music that rises from the darkest pits imaginable and whilst an acquired taste, the unprecedented levels of distortion captured on I’ve Seen All I Need To See may just be some of the fiercest hellscapes that have been committed to tape. The sound haemorrhaging with a renewed belligerence.
The fury starts with A Lament – a drone laden march through the sludge, lurching with tone heavy distortion that kicks against Lee Buford‘s ear-splitting percussion.
Tracks like Tied Up and Locked In and The Handle/The Blade attack all the senses, with dissonance that crumbles then disintegrates under the weight of pure dread. It’s moments like these where The Body (alongside Manchester who it as his apex here as a producer) turn the idea of black metal on its head.
In true spirit of The Body, there’s no let-up with Eschatological Imperative – a terrifying rage, rising from a hellhole like an unwanted spirit.
Primarily, The Body have always dealt heavily in nihilism, both in song and title. Path of Failure continues that trend, drawing the curtain on the album in menacing fashion. An apocalyptic rumble with Buford‘s free-jazz-inspired drums while King cranks up the searing levels of distortion for one last memorable assault.
Listening to The Body can be taken with a similar approach to enduring a Sunn O))) record (incidentally, Matt Colton mastered the album who has worked with Sunn O))), Aphex Twin amongst others – look no further than A Pain of Knowing and The City Is Shelled). Contextually, it’s not a world away, with the multi-layering of tone passing off that narcotic feeling.
If anything, The Body take the ideas of psychedelia to new extremes on I’ve Seen All I Need To See – an album to connect with when you want to escape the current world in search of your own. It’s a purely dehumanising experience.
I’ve Seen All I Need To See is now via Thrill Jockey. Purchase from Bandcamp.