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The Body & OAA
Enemy Of Love Alex Deller , February 18th, 2022 09:54

A new collaboration with producer OAA sees The Body sounding distinctly other, finds Alex Deller

The Body have been ploughing an unnervingly steady furrow for over twenty years now: shoulders aching into the yoke; eyes dead and fixed at some indeterminate point in the middle distance as they slowly sow misery, pain, and a very particular brand of self-loathing.

This steadfast resolve, however, speaks mainly to mission and motive. Sure, you can bet your back teeth that what you hear will be heavy – sonically, thematically, psychically – and that Chip King’s voice will put you in mind of meat being flayed from the limb of an angel, but, beyond this, the route they’re likely to take is anyone’s guess.

Key to the band’s exploratory approach has been a push for collaboration and outside interference. This has been on display since the band’s early days, and it’s a tendency that has helped pull their glorious glower n’ shriek in multiple different directions, much like Frank Cotton’s ‘Jesus wept’ bow in the first Hellraiser film. Often it’s the addition of more unexpected, atypical co-conspirators that result in the band’s most interesting and distinctive experiments, and like their work with The Haxan Cloak or BIG|BRAVE, Enemy Of Love finds them operating at the further fringes of their sonic palette.

As an occasional live member and one of the artists participating in 2019’s Remixed LP, producer OAA (a.k.a. AJ Wilson) is something of a known quantity, and The Body have certainly never shied away from noise or electronic music. This, though, immediately feels like something other. From the off you get the sense that we’re experiencing The Body at their most atomised and abstracted, as though Wilson has slipped something – a scalpel blade, maybe, or else a slim jim – between key connective threads and popped the whole damn thing open in order to insert alien technology amid the fleshy, glistening folds.

The fix is so neat that you’re oftentimes unsure as to what you might be hearing. Is that King’s bereft shriek, a repurposed feedback whine or the whinnying of a bent circuit? Are the borderline jaunty drum patterns inhabiting the claustrophobic groan of ‘Pseudocyesis’ or ‘Miserable Freedom’ the work of the human Chip Buford, or something Wilson has wrested from that No New York compilation and retooled for a cruel new purpose? Is that a bollocksed dentists’ drill grinding into the exposed nerve of ‘Conspiracy Privilege’? As for the Dylan Walker-assisted ‘Barren Joy’, it’s probably best not to ask too many questions, since its pitch-black vortex of gurgles and drones is lit only intermittently by brief neon flashes of 80s sci-fi synth.

Where this all leaves us is a strange place indeed. Enemy Of Love could, perhaps, be crudely compared to a mutant assemblage of past Justin Broadrick projects – Godflesh, Techno Animal, and Final, say – but that doesn’t entirely pass muster. Nor does the more fanciful notion of machines gaining sentience, only to immediately realise the state of the world and find themselves unable to stop screaming. Ultimately it’s another one of those harrowing, wonderful pieces of work that sees The Body flex their obliterative powers in odd new ways. At the risk of sounding like one of the band’s own album titles, perhaps this is enough?