Show Review — All Plots Move Deathward: The Body at Death By Audio
Two nights ago a late listening of The Body unearthed from my dreaming psyche terrors unlike any others I had considered previously. In the deliberation of potentially real or strictly hypothetical events I could have never imagined being put to bed by a dear friend with the warmth of my mother’s hand, then realizing he first mangled me in a garbage compactor filled with glass. Somehow I survived, etched all over with snaking red river lacerations and only the black end in sight.
The water surface of the Mariana Trench, changing states simply between ruffled and taught, hides an infinite abyss. The Body is a two-piece doom band from Rhode Island. Though, describing The Body as doom, or with any single word, would be deceitful. The Body consists of drums and a guitar but I would not even at gunpoint say only. Not because on their preeminent record, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, there are 32 musicians, but because the rabbit hole does not allow description of its reach. The record is a terrifying work of art that unveils flesh-fiends within man as well as the destitute that resides with the denial of life, psychological conditions that few readily admit. The grooves on this record imprison a sound—nothing but a prison of Benthamic proportions could contain it—that is easily the most progressive metal record.
The Body played at Death by Audio in Brooklyn last night, appropriately so because if you watched closely, something in that room died. Death by Audio is a small, completely graffitied venue with a two foot stage that is flanked by two large PA speakers. On it the presence of The Body was titanic like their music. Lee Buford’s strange North drums were candy apple red and asymmetrically flared out starting a foot from the resonating rim side, creating the appearance of a deformed tuba at the bottom of the drum. These medieval communication devices didn’t have resonating heads and I couldn’t help to fear whatever might come from their underside. His cracked cymbals were raised as high as the stands would allow. He had to adjust one to keep the connector between the boom and base from tottering. Buford was strategically placed in front of The Body’s three imposing speaker cabinets. They were roughly two by five feet and formed a barricade behind the band. The two cabinets directly behind the drums were used to amplify a sampler pad and a bass drum trigger that caused each hit to be an artillery explosion in a crippling war. During one of the songs, Buford used the sampler to trigger clips of unintelligible speech.
The guitarist, Chip King, had the third cabinet to himself with an obligatory Sunn amp. He, on the converse, lowered his microphone stand a foot or so below his face to take a more aggressive stance. A drum introduction to “The Curse” was met after some moments with a guitar riff which was a little underwhelming in volume. I didn’t bring earplugs and at that moment I thought it didn’t matter. I was wrong. The soon to follow eruption of guitar brought seven, myself included, out of a modest crowd of one hundred into a spiraling fit of violence. With the distortion cranked, vocals came in. King was being gutted with a serrated blade of a bear fishing implement. The tone refuses description. His vocal talent is equivalent to that of any opera master except his voice exists in a microcosm where nothing holds bearing and from every tree hangs the rotting body of a man. Relatively high pitched, the voice tore from his gut in a way gushing blood might be staggered by jagged edges of flesh left by a shotgun wound to a major artery. Cells inside our ears were becoming obliterated but you could hear King in a perfect mix of instruments as though anyone could have predicted the magnitude of the projectile emanations.
King’s guitar was downtuned and, along with the girth of their entire sound, it was impossible to judge exactly what he played. The closest description of the chords’ sound would be smashing cinder blocks with a sledge hammer in slow motion. Unlike many guitarists who consider unnecessary cabinet and speaker vibrations as tone ruining, King used them as orchestral elements. The overloaded speakers hummed an extra note and textured the guitar. In fact, both of the instruments and Kings voice seemed to take on higher order resonance.
The set did have minor imperfections. However, the fact that such brilliantly devised songs and sounds came from human beings and not perfectionist, blast beating robots gave The Body an absolute humanity that transcended the theoretical realm. In just thirty minutes The Body finished their set in a final dance of feedback, oceanic punishment, and no redemption.
The sonic projections of The Body are the result of a nihilistic world. The Body, just like our bodies, is fated towards miasma and decay. There are no solutions here, only the obligatory cessation of consciousness and return to the earth. There is nothing to be said about the time between now and the end; they are equivalent in content. The universe affords us with no real tools or fodder to create meaning and the screaming of The Body is the clawing of humanity against the ice of that which is terrifying and inescapable yet completely irrelevant. We can go to the store and call it good, get jobs, raise children, anything. Still, there exists utter relativism in all things and ideologies. Any applied purpose is really no purpose, synthetic like the one gifted from god. It is ironic but appropriate that the masses continue business as usual. After all, there is nothing to be done about purpose since it doesn’t exist. Human beings can bounce around and climb on ropes and assume any pretense. But the reality for all, ignored by most and carried by The Body like a cross, is that we are all doomed. For me, it’s hard not to listen when it’s so loud.
January 23rd, 2011.