Release Date: Nov 11, 2016
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Noise-Rock
Recorded at the 2014 Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, No Waves captures Body/Head at the zenith of a prolifically creative time for the duo. As Kim Gordon and Bill Nace borrow and bend elements from their 2013 debut album, Coming Apart, as well as the Show Is Over/The Canyon EP that arrived late in 2014, they dive deeper into the vocal and guitar abstractions that made those releases so transfixing. They warm up with "Sugar Water," a showcase for their interplay that builds from limpid to scorching.
Body/Head’s record label, Matador, found a strange way to bill the duo’s new concert LP. According to the PR material, “Instead of presenting ‘tracks’ or ‘songs’ from the record, we present moments from this one pinnacle set,” captured live at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, in March 2014. In other words, it’s a live album of the set that ex-Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon and avant-garde guitarist Bill Nace played that day.
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.
Of the many projects that sprung forth from the dissolution of Sonic Youth, Body/Head—the work of Kim Gordon and collaborator Bill Nace—was initially gripping and memorable. This was largely a result of both the intensity of the band and the raw, emotional nature of Gordon’s compositions, disguised though they were behind a veil of feedback and noise. Coming Apart was resonant in a way that Gordon hadn’t been in a while and her former bandmates couldn’t hope to match.
After the dissolution of Sonic Youth, the various members kept just as busy as they had in between full-band records, branching out into various solo and side projects. It was a fun puzzle to map out just what each person had brought to the band, what direction they’d contributed, where they were heading, and what they valued. Among them, Kim Gordon’s debut with Bill Nace as Body/Head, Coming Apart, felt the most urgent, the most necessary.
No Waves, the title of the second album by Body/Head, presents a double entendre. One meaning is referential: no wave, a nod to the 1970s New York outsiders who refashioned the bashing masculinity of punk rock into something more amorphous and dissonant. Body/Head is the duo of Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, and Bill Nace, a fellow guitarist and noise explorer.
Body/Head No Waves The teeth-rattling noise and detuned guitar glory of ex-Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon and guitarist Bill Nace is captured here in a live performance, recorded during the 2014 Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. Unlike many live albums, these aren’t note-for-note re-creations of the work found on Body/Head’s 2013 album Coming Apart, but a radical reinterpretation of the material that expands and adapts it using inspired improvisation and healthy doses of feedback. The songs are all the better for it, with added shades of emotion and fury oozing through every chord and squeal.
Body/Head—No Waves (Matador)It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that everyone in Sonic Youth would go on to make more records after the band broke up. Folks have to eat, and it’s not like they all had unending royalties to fall back on or a yen to become Walmart greeters. But the way things have played out was not so predictable. Sure, Thurston Moore has kept playing pretty much like he played before SY broke up, and Steve Shelley’s still a handy drummer for hire.