Album Review Body / Head - The Switch

Body / Head - The Switch

A thoroughly impressionistic affair.

Rating:

Kim Gordon threw herself into the making of the first Body / Head record pretty quickly after the sudden dissolution of Sonic Youth, so it’s a touch surprising that it’s taken so long for herself and collaborator Bill Nace to follow up ‘Coming Apart’ with another full-length. What won’t be surprising to anybody who read her autobiography, though, is that her post-divorce musical instincts have taken her down a deeply experimental road; she spent most of Girl in a Band talking about how she considers herself a conceptual artist first and a musician second. ‘The Switch’ was cut in the same studio, with the same producer, as ‘Coming Apart’ and yet it feels like a near-wholesale departure.

It’s a thoroughly impressionistic affair. The first of its five tracks, ‘Last Time’, is extreme even by Kim’s long-established non-conformist standards, much of its eight minutes taken up by dissonant guitar licks that are separated by seconds of silence every time. It’s not until towards the end that her unmistakeable vocals come in. Elsewhere, ‘In the Dark Room’ is nearly five minutes of the sort of doomy reverb that you might expect to hear in the thick of a Sunn O))) record, and by the time you arrive at the monolithic final two cuts, ‘Change My Brain’ and ‘Reverse Hard’, both of which sprawl out past ten minutes, you realise that this is less a five-track LP than one long musical movement. It’s an unsettling listen, occasionally disturbing in its unremitting bleakness, and even those predisposed to enjoy Sonic Youth’s weirdest work might find it impenetrable. Still, it inspires a powerful emotional response, which - you suspect - is what the pair were aiming for. 

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