Body/Head, the improvisational guitar-and-vocals duo of Kim Gordon and Bill Nace, build aural force-fields out of ghostly and shimmering drones, employing the building blocks of rock music as a means of providing amorphous conveyance outside of rock’s structures and melodies. Aaron Dilloway, formerly a member of Wolf Eyes and occasional creator of covertly accessible abstract industrial-pop records, creates uncanny valley drip paintings of sound that often feel like the “name one thing in this picture” meme. Both artists’ music, erroneously or not, is generally considered “noise.”
Whatever differences exist between Body/Head and Dilloway’s music—each artist’s style both distinctive and generally irreplicable from an outside perspective—the exploratory nature that each of them brings to their discordantly free sound makes a collaboration like theirs a natural one. Body/Dilloway/Head, their debut full-length record made as a collaborative group (part of a stunning couple of years of anniversary releases from Three Lobed), celebrates the vastness of that freedom with some of the most stunning sounds of either catalog. On the shortest track, album centerpiece “Goin’ Down,” there’s meditative beauty within the guitar drones and magnetic tape distortion, harmony found within an approach bound by disharmony, Nace and Gordon’s gorgeously cinematic guitars given a supernatural glow courtesy of a whirring conveyor belt of disembodied vocal intrusions.
Bookended by two lengthy pieces, one of which comprises a full side, Body/Dilloway/Head will require patience and curiosity on the part of the listener, and probably a good pair of headphones. The sprawling 17 minutes of “Body/Erase” puts that suggestion to the test immediately, a leadoff track that very quietly comprises found sound and the feel of turning the dial of a radio that can only pick up various frequencies of distant static. But give it six minutes and that static begins to become wildly animated, eventually introducing the feedback and low-end tap of guitar strings into a stunningly cohesive noise-drone symphony in the track’s climax. “Secret Cuts” is even almost—almost—a rock song, its two-note riff and Kim Gordon’s tape-deck-eaten vocals delivering distorted immediacy in a place you’d scarcely expect to find it.
Body/Dilloway/Head is, generally speaking, still very much a noise album in the sense of its parts often being made of sounds more than structured melodies. Somehow, though, it always eventually finds its way there, stumbling upon beauty in detritus and joy in absolute confusion. The two artists complement each other in fascinating ways, Dilloway sometimes restructuring the presence of Gordon and Nace in cubist remix form, or Body/Head injecting a more earthy grounding into Dilloway’s haunted-house daydreams. It’s only natural to feel disorientation at the outset of each of these pieces, but their destination is often the best kind of euphoric surprise.
Label: Three Lobed
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.