The Body Harness the Heart of Darkness on Pulverizing 'I've Seen All I Need to See'
Published Jan 27, 2021Even without counting the Body's plethora of collaborative efforts, much of this Rhode Island duo's output has a stacked guest list. The most memorable moments of the band's 22-year career wouldn't exist without guitarist/vocalist Chip King and drummer/programmer Lee Buford joining forces with talents such as Lingua Ignota and the Assembly of Light Choir. The Body's penchant for exploration and collaboration makes their return to primitive sludge metal note-worthy in and of itself — but that's only one facet of I've Seen All I Need to See. This is a band rediscovering their roots in the depths of pandemonium.
It's refreshing to hear the Body spotlight their core instrumentation, with only sparse input from long-time contributors Chrissy Wolpert (Assembly of Light Choir) and vocalist Ben Eberle (Sandworm). Opener "A Lament" displays King and Buford's uncompromising approach. The grating, blown-out guitar and drum tones would be oppressive enough without the track abruptly cutting in and out, like rhythmic power outages in a collapsing factory. Luminous synth patches manage to shine through the pulverizing tumult, retaining the Body's atmospheric edge.
These 40 minutes truly seem like Buford and King went to engineer Seth Manchester and said, "let's try to convince everyone we recorded with moldy potatoes." King's vocal impression of a parrot burning alive has somehow become the least disconcerting sound at play, as "Tied Up and Locked In" and "A Pain of Knowing" blur the line between sludge metal and straight-up harsh noise. The former's pulsating muck and industrial rhythms get swept away by utter cacophony, while the latter's smouldering dronescape entirely disregards structure.
Though certainly hard to digest, I've Seen All I Need to See's corrosive hostility imparts creative liberty to match its punishing crudeness. Whether it's the modular synth mutations that punctuate the oozing distortion of "They Are Coming," or the inexplicable swing groove underpinnings of "Eschatological Imperative," each track rears an ugly, but strangely memorable, head. A sense of direction pervades within the sonic torture chambers. Panicked screams and barbaric drumming spur the monolithic riffs along the road to hell.
In spite of their self-imposed limitations, the Body traverse sonic territory as diverse as it is caustic. This keeps deep cuts like "The Handle/The Blade" interesting, as King's signature falsetto squawk weaves into the propulsive rhythm breaks like an added layer of feedback. To a similar effect, "The City Is Shelled" presents a cavalcade of atonal piano chords, dissonant anti-riffs and disfigured beats, leaving "Path of Failure" to conclude the album with a haunting collage of free-form drum solos and throbbing power electronics.
Stripped-down in concept, and impenetrable in execution, I've Seen All I Need to See is perhaps the purest summation of the Body's artistry. Harnessing the core of their heart of darkness, King and Buford continue to blaze trails with immersive antipathy. (Thrill Jockey)