The Body & Dis Fig
Orchards of a Futile Heaven

(Thrill Jockey)



Felicia Dorothea Herman’s Casabianca is a poem that sticks with you. Stretching out a moment in the Battle of the Nile, as the French flagship burns under a midnight moon, Herman’s work captures a moment of serenity in violence, her camera pointing dispassionately at the ship’s deck, focusing on the unmoving figure of a young boy frozen while the blaze slowly engulfs him.

As an image of impending doom, it’s stark, but it also chimes with the music of The Body. Over 20 years, they may have dabbled with other moods and textures, but mostly, it’s been heavy, heavy, heavy. Yet new album Orchards of a Futile Heaven finds the duo of Lee Buford and Chip King expanding into new sonic territories, courtesy of their collaboration with Dis Fig, the alter ego of producer, DJ and artist Felicia Chen. Working hand-in-hand with The Body, she not only pushes the sound into some of the most discordant places it’s been for a while but also brings a personal focus almost entirely new to The Body’s output.

Her vocals, written in the aftermath of a personal tragedy, hit like a punch in the gut. Adrift in the all-consuming chaos, her delicate, poised vocals sound like a person caught in the eye of a storm, clinging to life as wave after wave comes crashing down. The result hits the same as Herman’s poem. Like the observer at the Nile, you’re watching a person calmly standing there as the world around them disintegrates. The question is: are they calm because they’re resigned to their fate, or does that calmness just mask the fact that they’re scared shitless?