It is altogether possible that Metallica and Lou Reed killed the idea of the collaborative album. I mean, who really wants to venture down that road anymore? Do things wrong, and you’ll always be compared to that lump of tarry coal that is “Lulu.” People will say the bands that try and fail to work together on an album really Loutallica’d that thing.
And that’s a shame. One of my favorite records of the last few years or so is “Altar,” the combined effort of drone gods Sunn 0))) and amplifier worshippers Boris. It’s a fantastic album that finds both bands comfortable in their creative flow, and put together, it’s as tasty as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I wonder if anyone’s ever compared “Altar” to a sandwich before. So my mind hasn’t yet been changed by Loutallica about letting two bands meld together, and what’s helped me stay positive is collaborations such as the one from drone/doom duo The Body and dramatic, orchestral post-rock band Braveyoung, who used to record as Giant (their split with Tides is a killer). The bands, who have been working as one in live settings, came together to make the excellent new four-track effort “Nothing Passes,” an album that lets both bands play to their strengths but never in a way that overshadows the other group. It sounds like if Sunn 0))) and MONO blended as one. Imagine that one.
Actually, you may notice there’s a huge helping of thunderous drone, and that may make you decide that the Body dominates this effort. But I don’t think that’s the case. While, yes, their smoking noise is ever-present on this thing, if you peek underneath all of that, you can hear Braveyoung forming the spine of this piece. They sprinkle the magic and the wonder that serves to both counteract and enhance the end-of-the-world ugliness. Their contribution to this effort is really gorgeous, and you might have to listen to this thing a few times to really sense that point. I had to do that, because the first time I heard “Nothing Passes,” I was first overtaken by the burliness of the Body. But as time went by and I visited again and again, Braveyoung’s personality made itself present. It’s a really fantastic, affecting partnership, and I hope it’s only the first of many efforts from these two bands.
Let’s also not downplay the presence of Rhode Island-based female chorus The Assembly of Light Choir, who have worked with both bands in the past and made their presence felt on The Body’s last record, the incredible “All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood.” In fact, the ladies popped up in Pittsburgh recently when the Body blew through here, making what already was going to be a hulking night into a wholly entrancing event. Their work here, especially on closer “The Vision,” a faithful cover of Exuma’s 1970 track that basks in both Armageddon and rebirth, brings a sense of beauty and wonder to the proceedings, making the world’s dissolution into ashes almost palatable.
The record opens with simply titled “Song One,” something of an introductory piece that runs a little over three minutes and lets both bands have a chance to warm their engines. A primitive sounding melody runs behind the fog, only hinting to what’s ahead. “Song 2” opens with drone fire, haunting chimes and the first choral notes of the collection, and over its more than 15 minutes, it slips into cosmic noise, glistening melody, howled shrieks and impenetrable darkness. This song is where Braveyoung stand out the most, as they color in the open pockets with their imaginative compositions and adherence to atmosphere. Remove them from this piece, and it might grow a little tired halfway through, but they help it breathe with extra life. The title track allows all the collaborators to get a little psychedelic and heady, with the Body’s suffocating doom bringing in and carrying out the song, but in between, you’re whisked across the galaxy to see worlds born and buried. And of course, it all ends with aforementioned “The Vision,” a song that initially seems like it doesn’t belong with the rest of the collection, but as it runs its course, makes you realize “Nothing Passes” wouldn’t be nearly the same without its inclusion.
These two bands sound like they were made to work together. I guess I should say three, because I don’t want to downplay the presence of the Assembly. But these groups – one a burly drone duo from Providence, a post-rock tandem from North Carolina, and a swelling chorus – make their worlds meet and live amicably in a haven of chaos. “Nothing Passes” is a mind-altering, soul-moving, skin-bruising effort that will stick with you for days. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and it should do a ton to save the idea of the harmonious collaboration that Loutallica so spectacularly sullied.
For more on the Body, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/the-body/334047229514?sk=info
For more on Braveyoung, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Braveyoung/130891160221
For more on the Assembly of Light Choir, go here: http://www.facebook.com/Assembly.of.Light.Choir
To buy “Nothing Passes,” go here: http://www.bluecollardistro.com/atalossrecordings/categories.php?cPath=719
For more on the label, go here: http://www.atalossrecordings.com/