The Body No One Deserves Happiness
Published Mar 16, 2016It was Julia Kristeva who first explored the idea of abjection, in her book The Powers of Horror, referring to the specific feeling of revulsion and cognitive dissonance someone experiences when suddenly forced to confront their own "corporeal reality" — that is, any moment when you come face to face with your own physical grotesqueness, the fact that human beings are profoundly fragile, blood-and-shit-filled fleshbags cursed with a consciousness.
It's a central idea to the genre of body horror, and conceptually, it figures prominently in the latest full-length from experimental sludge duo the Body, entitled No One Deserves Happiness. It's their strangest and most difficult record to date, which is saying something considering the depths that Lee Buford and Chip King have plumbed in the past. It's not the visceral percussion assault of "For You" or the unrelenting punishment of "Adamah" that makes the record especially challenging and merciless, but rather the way it marries violence and ugliness with pop sensibilities.
On "Shelter is Illusory," there's a howling desperation, but it's married to a kind of impudent catchiness that takes it from painful to deliciously skin-crawling. All the layered darkness and complex misery is shot through with shimmery moments of beauty too, courtesy of both these evil little twists of grace in the music as well as gorgeous guest vocals from Maralie Armstrong (Humanbeast) and Chrissy Wolpert (the Assembly of Light choir).
No matter how harrowing King's cries become, how punitive the increasingly industrial percussion grows, or how profound the agony of the textured sound becomes, it's these little moments of silvery beauty that make No One Deserves Happiness transcendent and unbearable. Settle in and endure. (Thrill Jockey)