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Body of Light, "Let Me Go"

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cover imageWhile it may be easy at first glance to label Body of Light (the duo of brothers Alex and Andrew Jarson) as yet another entry in the EBM revival arena, that is not entirely fitting.  There are drum machines and vintage synths aplenty, certainly, but Let Me Go stands on its own as a brilliant record of pure unadulterated synth pop that makes no conscious attempt at being anyone else, or sounding of any time except the present.


Even though they are geographically distant (the brothers Jarson hail from Phoenix, Arizona, which is pretty far from the Los Angeles scene), Body of Light has some kindred spirits with label mates High-Functioning Flesh and Youth Code, but they are anything but a sound alike band.  While those two projects are marvelous in their own right, they also focus more old school punk and hardcore elements filtered through their electronic gear.  Here, however, the sound is more unabashedly hook-laden and romantic, albeit darkly.  The sound is much in line more Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode than Skinny Puppy.

They also differ from the decidedly European gothic futurepop sound, even though that is also a similar reference point for their style.  There are similarly big, rave heavy synth leads from Andrew and Alex's dramatic vocals, but unlike those bands, Body of Light have a slightly less polished, more natural and human sound to them.  I have always found that cold sterility in this type of music off-putting, and there is none of that to be heard here.  It still results in Let Me Go being packed with catchy hooks and big, memorable choruses, and people could still easily do that weird stomping industrial dance people in that scene love so much though.

The record starts off on a big note with "How Do I Know?", at first all big synth leads that erupt into bombastic, explosive drums peppered with the weird cowbell and rimshot sounds on drum machines that never get enough use.  The result is upbeat and fun, but still with a dark edge and hint of menace to it.  The same applies to "Tremble":  it is shamelessly grandiose pop, from its dramatic synth opening to the taut rhythms and Alex Jarson's dramatic, hook laden chorus.  The energy is undeniable and the song is extremely memorable.

The duo paced the album well though, so it is not all big uptempo numbers.  Both "Felt" and "Cold Gestures" have sparser arrangements and overall more somber tones, making those highs all the more intense.  Each side of the record ends with a song that hearkens a bit more back toward their earlier, more experimental days.  "Last Breath" is a frigid mass of spaced out synth pulses, anchored by snappy beats and a building intensity.  Album closer "World Falls Apart" is a nervous, but dour mass of stuttering percussive clicks and drips, as dramatic, icy keyboards cast an ominous shadow.  Mixed with Alex's impassioned, yet frustrated vocals, it is a heavy note to end the record on.

My first exposure to Body of Light was seeing them live a few months ago, and I was especially impressed with their 2013 EP Volantà Di Amore, so my hopes were high when this album was announced.  In this case, my expectations were exceeded, as Let Me Go is an unabashedly magnificent piece of rich and dramatic, yet entirely catchy and memorable music.  It is a record that I can easily see as being among my favorite releases of 2016.



Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2016 10:10  


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