Underground music spotlight: The Body, Rashid push the envelope

By Alexander Beebe

Official "The Body" Facebook Page
(Official “The Body” Facebook Page)

So much music is readily available that it’s just as easy to miss out on new music as it is to discover it. This regular series aims to help remedy that by recommending five superb releases in hip hop, metal, punk, indie and the avant-garde that likely flew under the radar of many. Whether feeling overwhelmed by the amount of music the Internet allows access to or simply looking for something new that has not been buzzed about, allow these lists to make choosing what to listen to an easier process.

Rashid — “A Coragem da Luz”

Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, rapper Rashid has arrived with his first proper album in four years, “A Coragem da Luz.” Those not fluent in Portuguese should not be so quick to dismiss this album because of a language barrier, as it has a great deal to offer any fan of hip hop. Rashid has a viciously sharp tongue capable of delivering turbulent and flowing rhymes with cunning ease and versatility in style. The crisp production mainly takes inspiration from smooth jazz and soul, but incorporates a broad range of other instruments as well, such as guitar and harmonica.

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The Body — “No One Deserves Happiness”

After a handful of collaborative projects in the past two years, Providence-based sludge/drone duo The Body has produced its fourth non-collaborative album of harrowing and visceral sound experiments lifted straight from hell: “No One Deserves Happiness.” The nihilistic and misanthropic tone that has been consistent with every project from The Body is still abundantly present. But this album sees the band taking their sound – and underground metal in general – in a new direction that includes a prevalence of noisy synthesizers and shares more in common with power electronics and industrial artists, like Whitehouse, than it does other sludge or drone metal bands, like Sunn O))) and Thou.

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The Bonnevilles — “Arrow Pierce My Heart”

Gritty guitar distortion and fuzzy production comprise the straightforward aesthetic of UK-based rockers The Bonnevilles on their first album in eight years: “Arrow Pierce My Heart.” The band describes itself as “Garage Punk Blues” and it delivers on that claim with a refreshing griminess that’s been virtually absent from garage rock and blues rock for years. “Arrow Pierce My Heart” has both the attitude of punk rock and the meatiest riffs in garage rock since the beginnings of The Black Keys. The Bonnevilles are not inventing anything new here, but it is great to see such refined proficiency in the genre when there are so few new punk blues bands on the scene.

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Levitation Room — “Ethos”

Quickly following up on their warmly received 2015 debut album, “Minds of Our Own,” Los Angeles-born psychedelic rock revivalists Levitation Room have returned with another batch of lush tributes to the psychedelia of the ‘60s and ‘70s on their sophomore LP “Ethos.” Comparisons to Tame Impala are, of course, unavoidable, but Levitation Room boast a genuine knack for writing sunny hooks and also seem fully immersed in the aesthetic that their sound is indebted to. “Ethos” is simply as authentic as vintage psychedelic rock music gets. There is just as much breezy acoustic strumming as there is shredding on surf rock-like rhythms.

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Masami Akita / Eiko Ishibashi — “Kouen Kyoudai”

As prolific as Japanese harsh noise artist Merzbow may be, it is nothing short of astonishing for him to release “Gensho” (a two-and-a-half-hour-long collaborative album with Japanese drone doom band Boris) in the same week as “Kouen Kyoudai,” another collaborative record released under his birthname, Masami Akita, with fellow Japanese avant-garde artist Eiko Ishibashi. Akita creates the noise on “Kouen Kyoudai” and Ishibashi provides the Electroacoustic Improvisation. The result is two 18-minute songs that are both tumultuous amalgamations of erratic piano and overbearing repetitions of garbled sound effects. Those in search of abstract, anti-melody music for mental wallpaper should look no further.

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Alexander Beebe can be reached at [email protected]