Hatred? Too easy. Annoyance? All too apparent. Nevertheless it is conflict that endures the most, as is the case of any and all things that make life so awesome and yet so terrible. This one is, admittedly, of no real consequence. As a critic, as a man and as somewhat of a douchebag I am torn asunder in deciding whether to approach The Bodies Obtained and their album as I would any other album I’ve written about, lambasting or lamenting the band’s aesthetic particulars in a way that is usually amusing to only myself, or become at once more ambitions and more indulgent by brooding with an intensity that borders on Wittgensteinian over their pretentious, unintentionally contradictory image packaging. The latter is quite useless in the scheme of things. Music lives, marketing doesn’t die, peace on Earth is still wanting. The drama, however, is a fairly enticing prospect.
The Bodies Obtained are an “art damaged” duo from the Detroit area who share an affinity for Joy Division, gauging by their name which they take from the worst lyric line of one of their best songs “Day of the Lords.” Given that they used the term “art damaged,” a cliche for the self-professed subversive types, The Bodies Obtained pin their musical identity to the likes of Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Cabaret Voltaire and maybe even Whitehouse if they’re feeling particularly randy. Theirs is a world set largely in old meat plants and coal refineries shut down by Thatcherism where LSE “students” smoke cloves and sip beer to the pulsing of their electronics. But then there is the matter of reality. Their sound is not unlike the synthetic coldness, warped pop, and overall gothic oiliness of Ministry’s Twitch which, though not including a bevy of found sampling, comes with synth horns and sneering, creepy vocals. Their world is the entirety of Detroit peopled by whoever is left there in the wake of its now notorious backdrop of apocalypse. But fortunately for them that reality will likely not be faced right out since, I’ve been informed they don’t perform live all that much.
I can only assume that being damaged by way of art is as subjective an experience as that of making and/or witnessing art itself—I’m not philosopher, I just repeat what I’m told like any other dick—and in this case twiddling at a bunch of knobs and writing opaque lyrics about love and literary references (insane French proto-Bukowski and recreational Jew-hater Céline and some poet I’ve never heard of) is suitable for the duo. Fans of puzzles would have a grand time attempting to piece together how it is these two write their songs. They have an ear for hooks and rhythms but no real interest in maintaining them for that long or making them sound in any way tonal. Despite the Twitch comparison, dance is ruled out. Collage work and ennui are more their bag, which is no crime against sound, magic or anything directly related. It’s a matter of audience really. As much as it is implied that they could care less as to who listens to their music, I’ve never been more confident in declaring that a crock of shit. Hipster being a synonym for poseur at this point, they now listen to the Sugar Hill Gang. Goth is a synonym for raver, rivethead is a synonym for autistic goth, and Boyd Rice has gone on to become a librarian.
The aforementioned crock of shit is to me the biggest puzzle of all in regards to this band. They consider themselves a bit of an enigma, never performing live, not having any photos, and so forth, which is not, oddly enough, the puzzle. Rather it is how they go about making the claim. Not being as public as per the norm is actually a mini-tradition in rock music. Among its sturdiest practitioners are Jandek, Jeff Mangum and Corrupted. What separates these artists from The Bodies Obtained is that the former don’t rely on publicists to publicize it while also contradicting it by going on at length about things we don’t normally know about bands with no professed affinity with the Sasquatch. It would seem, as dictated by common logic, that elusive bands would not be so willing to provide an extensive biography, a lyric sheet, and certainly not meanings behind the lyrics. The whole packaging of the band could be entirely innocent, but I personally can’t help but detect insincerity in it. It brings about conflict over how it is I or anyone else is supposed to approach the band. Though others will disagree, the intended context of the band is compromised by an abundance of information, of things I should be speculating on as opposed to repeating in one form or another as certainty.
Errors in judgment such as these often require cunning but deranged stunts of sorts—think the ending of The Watchmen (the graphic novel, not the film). In this case the whole mess can be rectified by removing all superfluous nonsense and shortening the biography to something akin to the first sentence of the second paragraph of this review. It would be that or to hire the Sasquatch’s publicist which, as one may have guessed by this point, is the sweet air of freedom, or at least a huge fucking tree.
The Knife – Deep Cuts
ADULT. – Why Bother?
Fad Gadget – Incontinent