Kim Gordon and Bill Nace seem to generally work as if they are one being. Hence their official name, Body/Head. The experimental guitarists have always sounded analytical and visionary in their work, particularly Gordon in her 30-year tenure with Sonic Youth. Their synchronicity continues to impress their fans, even six years into their official tenure as a duo.
The Massachusetts natives definitely require an open mind for people who want to give them a try for those who aren’t familiar with Gordon’s more experimental work in Sonic Youth. At first listen, some may find their music to be incoherent noise, pretentious, or just flat out boring. Despite what you may think of them, the ambitious duo continues to be successful on their record label, Matador Records. Having released two albums already, full of twists and turns, Gordon and Nace take an even more cinematic approach for their third official record, The Switch.
The climactic tone officially begins on the opening track, “Last Time,” and doesn’t really cease up until the final few seconds of the closing song, “Reverse Hard.” The dizzying electric guitar riffs play out like a Science Fiction film, one of a Steven Spielberg nature. Unlike their previous two projects, Nace and Gordon allow their production to breathe on each of the five tracks. Lyrics are infrequent throughout The Switch, but for a reason. Not so much as to rebel against the common thread of modern-day music, but rather to show the allure of pure sound, and how conjunction and order are only needed for beautiful art.
For their latest album, the electric guitar remains the forefront of that structure. Each song is lengthy, with the shortest one being the very glitchy, “In the Dark Room.” There’s darkness, but there’s also optimism by the end of it all. Nace and Gordon’s voice only pop in when necessary, like on the hectic, “You Don’t Need.” The first portion of the five and a half minute tune is chaotic and lawless, kind of like how our world is today. Gordon only solidifies that notion when he bellows, “”This is how we are/This is the big all/This is the big all/You don’t need it.”
The aforementioned “In the Dark Room” acts as the highlight, linking destruction with elegance, while being the most meteorological experience of the entire record. Gordon and Nace invite listeners to a slowed-down version of Earth, where people all across the world are tearing it apart. It’s horrifying and enthralling all at once.
The turmoil doesn’t stop there however. The final two songs (“Change My Brain” and “Reverse Hard”) are just as hypnotic, but a bit more tedious than the previous three. Gordon and Nace still seamlessly weave their way through their harrowing guitar work, but the 10-minute tracks grow a little overtiring by the final few seconds. Regardless, the production is more dense, especially on the frenzied and vivid “Change My Brain.”
As exhausting as “Reverse Hard” may seem at first, the finale abstractly represents optimism, even after a predominantly heavy record. Their insistence on creating a project full of intellectual social statements ensues only up until these last moments. The duo plays their way through trouble, and ends with an everlasting bang. One that is noisy and representative of their entire mind state at this very moment.
The Switch is a timely album, both for the country, and our world in general. In an age where music is moving at such a rapid clip, Body/Head releases a project that forces listeners to slow the pace down, and pay attention carefully. Gordon and Nace send us down a mind bending journey, where we follow them through the chaos and destruction. Their consistent understanding of tone is uncanny, and leads them into making one of the most cinematically entertaining records of 2018.