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Body Meπa - The Work Is Slow Music Album Reviews

Body Meπa - The Work Is Slow Music Album Reviews
On their debut album as a quartet, Greg Fox, Melvin Gibbs, Sasha Frere-Jones, and Grey McMurray find common ground in psychedelic post-rock jams that are both sprawling and supremely focused.

All four musicians in avant-rock supergroup Body Meπa—drummer Greg Fox, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and guitarists Sasha Frere-Jones and Grey McMurray—have spent their careers in myriad contexts, and their debut album together, The Work Is Slow, finds them operating in yet another mode, dishing out sprawling post-rock jams both jazzy and psychedelic. One could point to previous efforts as antecedents—jazz-fusion freak-outs in Gibbs’ Power Tools, funk-rock meanderings in Frere-Jones’ Ui, drugged-out fuzz in Fox’s Teeth Mountain—but the quartet sounds supremely focused on this record. More than their other output, the goal here is to entrance.

As the title suggests, The Work Is Slow has songs that unfold patiently, and opener “Horse Flower Storm/Fabuloso” is suffused with the sweet languor of a hot summer day. That feeling primarily comes from the guitars: In the beginning, McMurray opts for ambient mood-setting while Frere-Jones plays the role of the noodler (the former’s guitar appears in the left channel while the latter’s is in the right). Even as McMurray creeps into noisier terrain, he never vies for center stage. Such restraint is key to Body Meπa’s cohesion: They constantly play off each other without overstepping boundaries, well aware that atmosphere is best maintained when everyone has equal say. When Fox whips out his double-kick-drum barrages, it’s less for the sake of an ostentatious climax than to playfully offset those contemplative guitar melodies.

The Work Is Slow is more than just dreamy soundscapes, though. “Bullitt” features a fiery wall of noise conjured up by Gibbs’ robust bass, Fox’s clanging cymbals, and McMurray’s searing guitar. Frere-Jones’ brambly free-improv guitar whimpers amid the chaos, like a small animal trapped in a burning building. It’s the most raucous song on the album, and every element is neatly controlled for maximum immersion and impact. It’s followed by “Motherwell,” which serves as a necessary relief. The meaty bassline is sandwiched between bright, nimble guitars, and repetition keeps you locked into its meditative groove.

There’s a quote from Ornette Coleman, the jazz titan whose 1978 album Body Meπa take their name from, that feels apt: “The theme you play at the start of the number is the territory. And what comes after, which may have very little to do with it, is the adventure.” While Body Meπa don’t sound as unwieldy or unpredictable as Coleman’s Prime Time band, there’s a similarly invigorating spirit of possibility in how the quartet navigates each track. On “Money Tree,” flurrying guitars inspire hypnagogic bliss, but Gibbs’ mid-song string of unbroken eighth notes injects hair-raising verve. Suddenly, everything snaps into place.

That’s the real joy of The Work Is Slow: You can feel the weight of each note and skronk and hiss, every change in rhythm and beat and melody. Fox, Frere-Jones, Gibbs, and McMurray’s contributions may be understated, but they’re all crucial to each track’s creation. This, in conjunction with clear and sustained atmospheres, allows for songs to feel both out of time and patently linear; they’re quietly thrilling, like hours-long road trips. On the triumphant closer “Ribbon,” sputtering kick drums burst alongside sparkling guitars, and it exudes the magic of a fireworks show. Even with decades of collaborations under their collective belt, Body Meπa accomplish a feat that always impresses: They’re a new band in perfect lockstep.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Body Meπa - The Work Is Slow Music Album Reviews Body Meπa - The Work Is Slow Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, June 11, 2021 Rating: 5

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