By the time you read this, I have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. – the latest release from Portland’s favoured noise mentalists The Body, will be available. Contained within its passages are a multitude of disparate sounds, brought to the fore – in the true style of The Body – by a cast of collaborators seemingly thousands strong. It’s also, according to Lee Bufford – who supplies The Body’s percussive dissonance – a different beast to what has come before: “It’s definitely not as guitar and drum heavy as other records, which makes it more cohesive, a lot of the time we’ll have stuff that’s really electronic, synth-based, and then we’ll have like a drum/guitar song.”
I have fought Against It… is a stellar release which maintains a high level of cohesion within its deep synergy of sound; lurching from abrasive, noise-induced reggae dub on ‘The West Has Failed’, to Godflesh-etched industrial on ‘Nothing Stirs’, and relating it all back to The Body’s origins in doom and sludge on ‘Off Script’ (arguably offering up some of the coldest sludge riffing of the year so far amidst a woefully oversaturated scene), pulling everything into a cohesive whole and allowing their trademark atmosphere of melancholy to pervade through every inch of the record. The release is at one moment deftly melodic and the next crushingly heavy, but most endearingly, it fits perfectly into the framework of what we have come to expect from the duo’s experimentalist atmospheres.
This is arguably in part due to the long list of collaborators on the album, as Lee rails off the list of people on the album, it’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer amount of talent poured into it. Lee gives a snippet as he rails off his “friend Ben, from Sandworm, he does a lot of the vocals, Michael Burdeyen from Uniform does some vocals, the bulk of it though is our friend Kristin Hayter who does Lingua Ignota – she sings a lot on it – which is awesome. there’s Our friend Dan who did horns on the last record… and this lady Laura Gully plays strings. Everyone’s a professional when they do what they do.”
This horde of collaborators has also allowed Lee and Chip to expand heavily on their sound, allowing them the freedom to do whatever fucked-up shit they want. “On this one, the horns are much more playing along with stuff, on the last record I felt like I wanted a Philly soul sound with the horns and Dan was like ‘oh I’m definitely down with that’, and it ended up being great. The horns are so much better than on the last record, on this one it was kinda like ‘do your own thing.’” The professionalism on the record is in evidence too: whilst professionalism can be a very difficult thing to quantify, especially within the creative industries, I Have Fought Against It‘s cohesive outcome definitely makes the argument for such a phenomenon amongst The Body’s camp.
Cementing the record’s aforementioned cohesiveness is a percussive backbone, inspired by Lee’s long-term fascination with programmed drums. The record is notable in that Chip and Lee have turned their own creative process on its head – building the record on their own samples rather than recording the basic tracks of drums and guitars and processing those from there.
“A lot of the drum sounds are influenced by Modular Analysis – this Greek techno label, I got really into that stuff, the really heavy drum sounds, that’s what I always love about any drum machine or any sampled stuff, it’s the super loud heavy bass drums and stuff. That label puts out really heavy repetitive beats, that’s what they seem to focus on.” Although Chip apparently doesn’t care for the techno end of the spectrum, Lee and Chip still meet in the middle:
“He grew up listening to hip-hop and Depeche mode and whatnot so he’s not opposed to drum machines and things like that. It’s the 4/4 drum beats, he likes the sound of that stuff, he just doesn’t like techno beats and stuff. That where he scales it back sometimes, which is good, cause left to our own devices, me and Seth [Manchester, longtime collaborator with The Body] will go full-on dance music haha.”
“When we play live and go on tour, we bring people along to play with us and stuff, and even back then we’d do a lot more. Back then, it was a chance to hang out with our friends and do something together. That’s why we do so many collabs, so we can make music with friends.” And perhaps that’s why I Have Fought Against It is such an endearing listen – music made between opposing forces is sometimes genre-defining, but music gently tempered between friends will always be the path to true perfection.
I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. is out now on Thrill Jockey. Purchase here. For a deeper insight into The Body’s cathartic sound, and Lee’s perspectives on punk history and politics, pick up a copy of our third issue right here.
Words: Richard Lowe