Essential New Music: Body/Head’s “The Switch”

The binary name of this duo promises a focus on the essentials, and The Switch delivers. Singer/guitarist Kim Gordon and guitarist Bill Nace don’t play licks or sing songs. Instead, they wield sound waves like a couple of planetary bodies directing ocean currents or weather fronts through the influence of gravity and energy. Sounds shudder and scythe across the stereo spectrum, pressing upon your sternum and messing with your head.

The titular switch may refer to the fact that where most Body/Head music sounds like it was committed live to tape, this album makes use of studio resources. Gordon’s utterances flit in and out of hearing like radio stations that your tuner can’t quite pull in. Instead of just slamming you, the guitars bear the audible marks of traveling through filters and atmospheres, which makes this the most dynamic and disorienting Body/Head record to date. Don’t fight—Switch.

—Bill Meyer