The term “supergroup” gets thrown about from time to time as a way of describing the union of musicians from different backgrounds or with different histories, each known individually for their work. Body Meπa, based out of New York, consists of Greg Fox (drums), Sasha Frere-Jones (guitar), Melvin Gibbs (bass), and Grey McMurray (guitar). These gentlemen have established themselves in various corners of quirky rock, creative jazz, and improvisation. Does that make Body Meπa a supergroup? Perhaps. What is more relevant is their output on The Work is Slow, which in a word, is sublime.
Harkening to math rock ala The Dismemberment Plan, Upsilon Acrux, Ahleuchatistas, and Battles, this foursome plays with complex interlocking rhythms. But their dual-guitar attack is raw and jangling, more textural than melodic. The chords are often heavy, with piercing feedback. Fox has the ability to produce beats when you least expect them, making any attempt to dance to his drumming a risk for serious injury. He produces a clear rhythmic structure as opposed to a totally free form of improv, but these patterns riddled with fills and embellishments. Gibbs is supple and intelligent, driving the focus of some tracks with overdubbed bass, while following along in others.
A favorite track in these parts is Bullitt, the pacing of which resembles that of a broken robot. Frere-Jones and McMurray trade heavy walls of distortion and feedback over a signature busy set of breaks from Fox and Gibbs. Ribbon is less gritty, with a simpler rhythm and a bit of bounce. The guitar playing is exploratory and spiky, more than a little harsh at times.
Bottom line: The Work is Slow exemplifies category-free not-rock, both energetic and catchy. Don’t hesitate to snap it up when it hits on May 28th.