Body/Head ‎– No Waves – VINYL LP


1 in stock


This live set captures Body/Head (improvisational guitarist Bill Nace and Kim Gordon) operating at a furious peak, reeling from no-wave to free jazz to pop hooks in an exhilarating blur.

Share on Twitter
Open share drawer
This live set captures Body/Head (improvisational guitarist Bill Nace and Kim Gordon) operating at a furious peak, reeling from no-wave to free jazz to pop hooks in an exhilarating blur.

The highlights from the meticulously recorded 2014 Body/Head live set at Big Ears selected for No Waves clock in all together at only 40 minutes, which is exactly the point at which those of us with punk training start to get restless beyond consolation in live settings. No Waves is, in its essence, tenuously and perfectly balanced between experimental challenge and punk efficiency. At first listen, it may seem wild and free; under deep scrutiny, it’s extremely artful, no moment out of place.

This should come as little surprise to anyone familiar with either half of Body/Head, Bill Nace or Kim Gordon. Nace is an extraordinarily skilled improvisational guitarist who’s collaborated with contemporary greats like Chris Corsano, Jessica Rylan, Mats Gustafsson, Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty, Bill Orcutt, Okkyung Lee—the list goes on. What remains audible through all of these disparate collaborations is his core skill—as are all titans of improvisation, he is highly adaptable, and above all, an excellent listener. His style is unmistakable, but he never forces his collaborators to bend to it. Instead, he stretches elastic, copper, and rough twine sounds around the structures his collaborators build; it’s magical to observe. Gordon, for her part, has a noted ear for breaking apart pop songcraft; in Sonic Youth, in Free Kitten, and with Body/Head, she’s always written bass and guitar lines that are as indelibly catchy as they are inscrutable. There’s always a delightfully missing hinge to what she builds, urging the listener to push open the door instinctively only to watch the entire frame crumble.

Of the two shorter tracks, “Sugar Water” and “The Show Is Over,” only the latter has a studio counterpart, while “Abstract/Actress” takes two tracks from Body/Head’s debut, Coming Apart, and blurs them together into a thick, tense paste. If the versions of these songs on Coming Apart sometimes felt like never-ending spiral staircases from a surreal dreamscape, their mutated live representation paws the ground, less Escher-esque than Baba Yaga’s hut—dream gone nightmare; landscape gone mythic hell. The track takes up the bulk of the album, and yet it never becomes boring and never feels long. There are nods within to no-wave scrawl, to free jazz freakout, to pop hook, and to psychedelic drone. It’s exhilarating.

“Sugar Water” is nothing short of beautiful, Nace’s and Gordon’s guitars delicately chiming together, their clangor blending smoothly into a murky dissonance, like church bells. Gordon’s voice twists over the top, wordless, serving as an instrumental tone unto itself, as she has often deployed it. “The Show Is Over” ping-pongs between placid ambience and blown-out, quick-strummed frenzy; Raymond Pettibon’s cover art (far from the gnarly punk line work he’s perhaps best known for, but congruent with his lifelong usage of greens, blues, and yellows, as well as his fat scroll-like brush technique) depicts a seemingly calm lake (the No Waves title, after all, is not just a play on a a genre name), and one may be reminded of that art particularly by this song; how quickly the wind can kick up, how quickly a fresh-water monster could emerge.

The dynamism of all three tracks is another of No Waves’ greatest strengths; where Body/Head’s studio work is all matte-finished and fascinatingly horizontal, here their interplay stands up in full, palpable relief. The recording retains the crackling live energy and natural ease of the set without sacrificing clarity. No Waves stands as a memorable document on its own and a hopeful harbinger for new material to come.

Additional information
Weight 280 g




Privacy Preference Center