Feeding Tube Records/Peace & Rhythm
Home Body are best experienced live. The electronic duo of vocalist Haley Morgan and beatmaker Eric Hnatow hit hard. Hnatow’s beats rattle the brain, thick loops of bass and drums and keyboard noise, whilst Morgan is a force of nature. Using effects, her voice is everywhere at once, as she prances, preens, and swirls around the stage. And then there’s the lightshow, which combines with the beats and her voice to leave the audience dazed, confused, and happy. Home Body have been doing this for awhile; they formed in 2011 in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, where they’ve become local sensations for their feverish live show.
Spiritus is their first long player, though they have put out three eps over the years. This is music for our times, to say the least. While Hnatow creates a dystopic musical soundscape for us, dark beats and loops, jarring synth flourishes, Morgan offers us hope with her powerful vocal tracks. There is a sort of chaos in the soundscapes, though controlled. It is a nice place to run into, to escape the world around us.
Spiritus starts off on the downlo, with ‘Sketch,’ which is centred around a percussion loop and various synth sounds as Morgan’s voice drifts over the music. And just as we’re lulled into this peaceful place, ‘Little Things’ arrives, with the boom bap, the bass alone is enough to jar us awake. And then Morgan arrives:
I was born chasing down mountains
Rosy cheeks and eyes for fountains
I saw dew turn into frost
And you too will turn to dust
She’s all strength and fury here, but then the song shifts. Whilst the beat remains the same, a heavy drum’n’bass loop, it is Morgan’s voice that carries this song, as she morphs from the strength and fury to an ethereal fairy to something more defiant than anything. And this is the power of her voice. She has incredible range that belies at least some classical training, which, when combined with vocal effects and layering, gives her not just that range but incredible power too.
One of my favourite things about this album is the pacing. After we go from the relaxation of ‘Sketch,’ to the early pounding of ‘Little Things,’ by the time it ends, it’s ethereal beauty, and this is the general tenor for the rest of the album. Sort of. Hnatow is a beatologist, and just as soon as we get comfortable sinking into Morgan’s incredible voice, he reminds us he’s there, with a supersonic boom, a drum’n’bass loop, or just an insane brain-rattling beat.
Sometimes their influences are clear, such as on ‘DNA’, when they start with an electronic flourish that brings to mind early Eurythmics, and, amazingly, Morgan is able to pull off a reasonable Annie Lennox impression. Otherwise, I hear elements of Sarah McLachlan, and all she could’ve done has she been inclined. Morgan also channels Björk, especially live. One can also hear echoes of The Knife and FeverRay in here.Of course, wearing one’s influences, becoming one’s influences is another, and Home Body always manage to avoid falling into any homagic pastiche.
My favourite track is ‘Comet,’ which starts with a basic drum’n’bass loop, but that bass is heavy and thick, and sees Morgan’s voice float not just over the track, but to get into the nooks and crannies of the beat and the melody.
The instrumental, ‘Undertow’ is fascinating, as it is the only track not to feature, obviously, Morgan’s powerful, all-encompassing voice, but it’s downright beautiful, drawing to mind (for me at least) ‘Radio 4’ from Public Image Ltd.’s brilliant Second Edition.