Body/Head - The Switch

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2018-07-13
Body/Head - The Switch
Body/Head - The Switch

The Switch is the second studio album from Body/Head (the collaboration between Kim Gordon and Bill Nace). It features guitar tracks from Nace and Gordon with Kim Gordon’s often manipulated vocals over the top.

Last Time starts quietly with the pitch of the guitars being radically shifted, possibly by tremolo arm or by something placed under the strings. A second guitar, through a Tremolo pedal, also appears at times. Gordon’s voice appears, more throaty than I remember it and also being pitch-shifted. It reminds me of the more experimental corners of Richard Youngs’ catalogue (OK, that’s most of it). The overall sound is warmly distorted and there is a great sense of space which increases with an ambient feedback ending like something from Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Weld and Arc albums.

The warm waves of noise continue on You Don’t Need but, if anything, they’re more lovely. The Tremolo pedal is also utilised again and there are suggestions of a little guitar melody, quite like a Spacemen 3 improvisation. Kim Gordon’s brief vocal is as snatched and urgent as Alan Vega. The pitch of the guitars is shifted again at the start of In The Dark Room giving the impression of drugs taking hold. The following sounds are more industrial (with a lower-case i), albeit with the second guitar playing a pleasant ambient drone underneath. There are no vocals here but the combination of sounds make for a fully-rounded piece of music.

The Switch finishes with two 10 minute pieces. The first is Change My Brain which again starts with two-tracks of contrasting improvisational guitar that also somehow work together, bound by the warm distortion. Gordon is back on vocals giving the impression of someone trying to communicate whilst being repressed by machines. The noise increases as Gordon’s vocal becomes clearer. Deep drones combine with warm noise and a ghostly half-melody to create another rich mix of sounds and styles. Reverse Hard starts with noise. Warm, swirling noise; low in the mix - like a distant storm. It’s the most impressionistic piece on the album until the volume jumps and Kim Gordon’s vocal comes in. Wailing through a pitch-shifter and tremolo, she sounds like Gibby Haynes. The guitars crash around her until they settle down into a combination of pulse and swirling noise. It’s a fitting ending.

I’m undoubtedly over-simplifying things to bring them down to my level but I just like experimental/improvisational music to sound nice. For example, William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops are high concept pieces, but they also sound absolutely brilliant. The same goes for The Switch by Body/Head. Two experienced improvisers and noise-makers combining to make one glorious and meditative whole.

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