The Body and Dis Fig: Orchards of a Futile Heaven review – awe-inspiring music for heavy times

<span>Explosive … The Body (below) and Felicia Chen AKA Dis Fig</span><span>Photograph: PR</span>
Explosive … The Body (below) and Felicia Chen AKA Dis FigPhotograph: PR

US duo the Body, who have long operated in the post-apocalyptic remains of metal and noise, team up here with Dis Fig, AKA Berlin-based DJ, producer and vocalist Felicia Chen, known for her brilliantly unsettling 2019 album Purge and a subsequent full-length collab with the Bug. Here, there are times when the dub-wise feel is rather like Kevin Martin’s insectile alias at his most jaded and speaker-destroying, but even he might hold back from the hellish moods on show here. If current news events and the general state of the world are making chirpy pop or earnest heartbroken balladry seem trite, this explosively heavy album might resonate better.

Fans of the Body will be familiar with Chip King hollering in startled adrenal shock – still one of contemporary music’s best sounds – while the guitars, bass and drum programming again get pushed through the red and into the black, shaking with distortion. But Chen deepens the duo’s emotion and expands their tone. Her vocals are sometimes choral, chafing against the tracks in a beauty v beast dynamic, but she also frequently disrupts that, letting accusation seep in to crack her voice with anger.

The Body’s programmer Lee Buford has always flirted with techno, minimal wave and industrial, but Chen’s grounding in club culture seems to enhance all that, as when an analogue signal searches the wreckage of Dissent, Shame, or when Coils of Kaa settles into an almighty groove as Chen chants and taunts. Whether it’s a sludge-metal lope or a near-techno pulse, this truly awesome album’s sense of rhythm is perhaps its note of hope, suggesting a centre that just might hold even as things fall apart.