The Body & Dis Fig are a natural pair. Each has pioneered instantly recognizable worlds of sound all their own that defy any traditional categorizations or boundaries. The Body, Lee Buford and Chip King, continually challenge any conventional conception of metal, collaborating with myriad artists and from the folk-leanings of their work with BIG|BRAVE to their groundbreaking work with the Assembly of Light Choir to the intensity of their collaborations with OAA or Thou. Dis Fig, aka Felicia Chen, pushes electronic music into dark extremes, from warped DJ sets to avant production, from being a member of Tianzhuo Chen’s performance-art series TRANCE to being the vocalist with The Bug. The Body and Dis Fig find kinship in reimagining what it means to make “heavy music”. Their debut Orchards of a Futile Heaven is the perfect synthesis of two forces, twisting melodicism and intoxicating rhythms, layering a dense miasma of distortion with intense beats and a soaring voice clawing its way towards absolution.
Orchards of a Futile Heaven’s walls of sputtering texture and tectonic booms are soaked in the reverence and melancholy of sacred spaces brought to life by palpable intensity by Chen’s voice. Crafted during a time of personal fragility, the album’s devastating force lies beyond any of the expected noise and abrasive textures typically associated with both The Body & Dis Fig. Suffused with a raw vulnerability and a longing for catharsis, Chen’s voice searches for escape in the midst of oppressive atmospheres as if determined to find relief from guilt. “Eternal Hours” patiently unfurls waves of surprising sounds, whispered undulations that are punctuated by sudden crashes, all beneath Chen’s haunting harmonies. “Dissent, Shame” evokes grief and shame with a minimalist drone dirge that gradually builds to an enchanting choral passage. King’s guitar on “Holy Lance” matches the uncanny drone of Chen’s accordion in an all-consuming blast, Chen’s voice transforming the moment from anguish to defiance and empowerment. The album’s arc finishes with “Coils of Kaa” acting as a kind of propulsive exorcism, breaking through a suffocating air before the funeral procession of “Back to the Water” lays the album to rest.
While sampling has long been essential to each, The Body & Dis Fig deftly meld their differing approaches to sampling and creating extreme sounds until the boundaries are entirely blurred. The two found kinship in their desire to find new avenues to make heavy music that looked beyond tropes of metal and electronic music by merging the two. “I always wanted the heavier stuff but I also didn’t really like heavier guitar music,” says Buford. “None of it really felt quite heavy enough to me. A human can’t be as heavy as a machine.” Chen counters, “I love the balance. You could never connect to just a machine as well as you could a human. Which is why the combination is so potent for me. I don’t want to hide. I think nothing connects you more empathetically than another human's voice.”
Orchards of a Futile Heaven affirms The Body & Dis Fig as skilled sound sculptors who have an exceptional ability to make deeply affecting music, bracing as it is touching, harrowing as it is awe-inspiring. Together, the two have harnessed their expansive artistry to make music that is profoundly emotional, and staggering in its beauty.