THISQUIETARMY- ‘The Body and the Earth’
You can hear the time and effort that went into making this. There are signposts throughout ‘The Body and the Earth’ that this is a record born of long hours, dutiful diligence and deep concentration. It’s highly unlikely that anyone was doubting Eric Quach’s work ethic of course- Quach (for he alone has been thisquietarmy for over a decade) has almost 50 releases and around 15 full-length albums under his belt- but the four tracks and 40 minutes of music here feel especially like they’ve been neatly built by a loving architect. It’s a damn shame then, that ‘The Body and the Earth’ isn’t better.
That’s not to say it’s bad. The slow rise of ‘Cometh’ sets things up nicely, ominous and peppered with skittering fidgety creaks and glitchy, murmured vocals before some excellent space-rock swells make an impact around the four-and-a-half-minute mark, and ‘Seismic Waves’ is introduced with genuinely chilling drones. Yes, there are sparks of brilliance here. Instead of building on that though, settling into swampy darkness or boiling into a storm, any atmosphere made tends to muddy and fade as tracks progress.
It might be because, for the very first time, thisquietarmy is something of a complete band here. Bass and drums and trumpet players have been brought on board. And while they give new possibilities and a fresh width to proceedings, it’s difficult to point to one contribution that truly elevates this record. Instead it feels oddly disjointed and too often it means the music is caught somewhere between ordinary, meandering post-rock and the more eerie experimentation that is Quach’s signature sound. A warm but muted production doesn’t help matters, almost like the music here had to move slower or be planed flatter, to fit everyone in. I don’t think it’s an experiment that will be repeated.
It might just be a matter of quality control. Quach has created some truly compelling sounds over the years and watching him work his improvisational magic live is quite something but he’s also capable of releasing a record for a records sake. Still, even in terms of thisquietarmy’s back catalogue, the careful, drifting sounds of ‘The Body and the Earth’ struggle to stand out. And as well-built as it may be, rather than drifting away with it, or feeling any kind of push or pull at all in fact, you’re left with a resigned feeling, a shrug of shoulders, a “this is fine”. A damn shame.