The Body are a perfect band for the End Times. It matters little if you’re a believer in doomsday prophecies, when the fiery/implosive/stagnant conclusion to this planet finally comes rolling around the cosmic bend it’ll probably sound and feel a lot like The Body.
Their most recent effort, 2010’s ‘All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood‘, is a simultaneously horrifying and unnervingly beautiful fusion of cataclysmic noise and apocalyptic full-choir work, there’s really no other record out there like it. Vocalist and guitarist Chip King possesses a full-bodied, sweat-covered howl that comes out sounding as much like a strangled rooster (in a brilliant way) as an impaled Black Metal vocalist. I say ‘impaled’ here because King’s voice seems to be so much more honest and genuinely distraught than, say, Varg Vikernes or Nocturno Culto, but it still possesses all the bone-chilling intensity and high-end larynx-shredding tonality of these legendary figures. Point being, there’s nothing theatrical about the way King screams; nothing cool or spun to impress. It’s all desperation and confusion, all panic and aggression. At the same time that he’s shrieking with his entire being, body hunched over and completely tensed, his own guitar threatens to bury all of his vocal efforts. Drummer Lee Buford supplies nearly constant crash-heavy beats delivered with unbelievable force and concentration, further threatening to turn the proceedings into an insane pile of squalling violence. The duo push both themselves and their songs to the furthest reaches of power and effect, and to a level of skull-shaking abandon that suggests a powerful and entirely possible total collapse.
It’s at this juncture between destruction and devotion, frenzy and sublimity, that The Body treads a territory all their own. Their songs are ruined dystopian landscapes. Towering bombed-out masses of guitar and drums threaten to collapse inward on a lone and insane voice, while the bizarre scraps of previous fanaticisms march their way quietly into and through the wreckage. Ghostly choral decoration, looped Pentecostal-style tongues-spewing, and distant radio transmissions all appear within the end grooves of ‘All The Waters…‘ and lend an air of perverted and bastardized spiritualism to the pair’s songs. Throughout, The Assembly of Light‘s all-female choir contributions summon up images of Christian Armageddon while the occasional scraps of shortwave transmission recall horrifying survivalist radio broadcasts. Buford and King can be readily seen sporting massive guns of all types in their press photographs, and their lyrics read like a completely depraved and utterly brilliant death cult prayerbook. It’s as if the pair has studied all of the great transgressive, paranoid, and hopelessly fanatical visionary leaders of the past 50 years (Manson, Asahara, and Applewhite all come immediately to mind) and effectively summarized their delusions into one perfect exploding soundtrack for any number of potential raptures.
Buford and King embark on a very special tour with The Assembly of Light starting June 17th in Philadelphia. Together, the two groups will be playing 10 (surely) incredible dates up and down the East Coast, ending in Providence (their current homebase) on Sunday, June 26th. I myself am considering making the three hour trek from Maine to Rhode Island just to see them play once more. Head here for official details.
EOL: How often have you performed with the Assembly of Light Women’s Choir? Is this something that has only occurred once or twice in a live setting? I ask because I was more than elated to see that you are performing with them onstage for the Blackened music series in NYC in June….
Lee: We’ve played with the choir once before at the record release show. It’ll probably never happen like that again. With the volume of chip’s amps it’s really hard for the choir to compete with that. It turned out great but we were really concerned with their mic’s feeding back when we were trying to compensate for our volume.
We will be touring with them in June for 10 days but it’s going to be more them playing their stuff & then us playing with a little bit of crossover. It’s so hard to know how a room is going to be and what the stage and PA will be like so we don’t wanna plan all this stuff out and get somewhere that can’t accommodate it.
EOL: How hands-on was the experience of getting the whole choir on ‘All the Waters…’? Did you compose and transcribe parts for them or was someone else involved with the process?
Lee: Chrissy Wolpert, who wrote the choir pieces and who started the choir, has been a friend of ours for almost a decade. She’s done vocals/violin/piano stuff on older BODY stuff and on some of our side projects. She had the idea for a choir and it got going around the time we started recording All The Waters. She’s kind of like our 3rd member so we trust her completely. We had all the songs written to give to her except “A Body” which she wrote the choir part for and we wrote the music to that. She is an extremely good musician so it’s an honor to work with her and the choir.
EOL: What are some unexpected inspirations within the working processes and music of The Body? Any artists that would really surprise us?
Lee: I love the Beach Boys, and we both love ELO, so we wanted to get that kind of dense sound from using a variety of instruments and voices. Our live show is very reliant on volume and the way Chip’s amps setup sounds so it’s hard to capture that on recordings. We wanted to keep the intensity, so we had to borrow the ideas of a lot of that 60’s and 70’s stuff, those ways of doubling up and using multiple instrument tracks. Working with the guys at Machines with Magnets is a huge help also.
EOL: Do you feel honored to be so often compared to Swans in your press, or is this a point of contention for you guys? It seems very prevalent in all the writing out there on you guys….
Lee: For sure, I got the chance to see them in Boston last September and it was the best live show I’ve ever seen. If we can capture any of the intensity that they convey live and on record then I feel like we’ve accomplished a ton.
EOL: Are there any details on the At A Loss re-pressing of ‘All The Waters…’? I have read that this it’s going to be a 2xLP set, but I was curious if you had any secrets up your collective sleeve? Modified artwork? Colored/transparent vinyl? Posters? etc.?
Lee: The main differences is that instead of the screenprinted insert it has two embossed euro sleeves inside the gatefold. There are some white ones and some greyish ones too, but honestly we’re not big fans of colored vinyl so we made sure there’s plenty of black. It also includes a download code which the original didn’t have.
EOL: Favorite New England musician(s)/act on the scene today?
LB: There’s a lot of good stuff out there but these are our favorites: WORK/DEATH, who did noise stuff on every track of our record, is extremely good live and just put out an excellent CD on semata productions that is a must have. Also, SEWER GODDESS from the Boston area, HUMAN BEAST from providence, and BIG BLOOD from Portland.