Who would have thought that the 2013 debut full-length from the Kim Gordon/Bill Nace duo, Body/Head, would have eluded a Hassle review until now? Well, it won’t be long until Hasslefest 6 is upon us, among whose acts Body/Head will not only appear, but headline. (A gentle reminder that the only way to score advance tix to the ‘fest, and additional excellent swag, is via our Indiegogo campaign– link here.) So now is the time to start doing our homework and revisit, or in this case, listen for the first time, to albums by bands who will be featured in this year’s fest.
Coming Apart (Matador) defies easy genre categorization, and certainly defies expectations. To answer the question you didn’t have to ask: no, it really doesn’t sound like Sonic Youth, except for their most experimental, early material. Instead, Coming Apart is largely improvisational, taking a raw, minimalist approach to each song. Exclusively featured are Gordon’s signature grainy alto and Nace’s and Gordon’s droning and occasionally doodling guitar dirges. Gordon’s lyrics are vulnerable and at times deeply, almost uncomfortably, personal– her darkly drawn out moans on “Last Mistress” are quietly unsettling.
The general lack of a percussive element on Coming Apart is noteworthy. While the guitars function to keep a beat to a certain extent, the absence of drums makes this album more free-form, and somehow, more intimate, as if a couple of (very talented) friends are having a jam sesh in your dimly lit living room during a snowstorm. And really, it’s the improvisational element of this album that makes it stand out. You never have the slightest idea as to what’s going to happen next, and each song is as long or as short at it decides to be. When Pitchfork asked Bill Nace about the varying song lengths on Coming Apart, he simply said, “We just stop when it’s over.” Now there’s a real pro.
Coming Apart can be purchased from your favorite local record shop or via Matador directly. Or probably the Hasslefest merch table next month. See you in November, Body/Head!