Bodywash

I Held the Shape While I Could (Light Organ Records)

Contact Patrick Tilley about Bodywash

Bodywash — the Montreal-based duo of Chris Steward and Rosie Long Decter — presents the final single/visualizer, “Perfect Blue,” from their new album, I Held the Shape While I Could, out this Friday, April 14th, on Light Organ Records. Following the “enveloping [and] gorgeously melancholy” (Gorilla vs. Bear) “No Repair,” and the “infinite heights” (FLOOD) of lead single “Massif Central,” “Perfect Blue” is an ear-splitting psychedelic meditation on Steward’s Japanese and British cultural identity. Satoshi Kon’s 1997 psychological thriller of the same name becomes a prism through which Steward projects and refracts his mixed lineage into a murky duality. A pulsating synth motif arches and folds inwards on itself as Steward sings: “to be half is to not be whole.”

 

Of the track, Steward states: “‘Perfect Blue’ takes its name and its inspiration from Satoshi Kon’s 1997 animated film. The themes of internal conflict and losing one’s sense of self really resonated with me when I first watched it during the winter of 2021. ‘Perfect Blue’ (the song) is an exploration of the many facets of my own cultural identity. Being both British and Japanese has often felt like a compromise. While it might be easy to romanticize this duality, the reality is that it’s impossible to wholly belong to either culture. What has brought me some solace in the past is their shared appreciation for shoegaze and ‘Perfect Blue’ is an ode to this common cultural heritage. We stacked breathy digital synths (inspired by Masahiro Ikumi’s ominous soundtrack) atop a wave of viscous fuzz guitars, in search of a “perfect blue” – a color the shade of renewal”

 

There are many places like home, and on I Held the Shape While I Could, home is a mutable thing; a location that is fixed until it isn’t. Across the record, Steward’s abstract guitars and Long Decter’s cascading vocals act as ambient throughlines, blurring the digital and organic, gesturing toward something intangible, just out of reach. Home is a process — the back and forth of guitar riffs and vocal hums, of files sent and received across the ocean. A world imagined and sculpted together.

 

Over I Held the Shape While I Could’s twelve tracks, Steward and Long Decter reflect on their separate and shared experiences of losing a sense of place, the way something once solid can slip between your fingers, and their attempts to build something new from the fallout. As they prepared to release their 2019 debut Comforter, Long Decter and Steward both experienced alienating shifts in their personal lives, leading to a mutual sense of dislocation. They began writing new material that was darker, more experimental, and at the same time more invigorating than the soothing dream pop on Comforter. The resulting I Held the Shape While I Could is a record that lives in the sonics of decay and renewal: breaks that burst forth from a squall of fuzz guitars, drones that glitch and stutter like ice willing itself to thaw.

 

Alongside I Held the Shape While I Could, Bodywash will release Take Form, a 30-page booklet that expands the world of the album. Designed by Yoon Rachel Nam (Desert Bloom, Cedric Noel), Take Form features the complete album lyrics alongside poems, a short story, and guitar tabs by Long Decter and Steward, as well as art by Kristina Pedersen. This 50-copy limited run creates a new resonance for the recordings.

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