In late spring 2016, Body of Light, the electro-dance duo of brothers Alex (vocals, electronics) and Andrew Jarson (electronics) were having a breakthrough. Every night. Onstage. In the midst of a U.S. tour with fellow young EBM-industrial upstarts High Functioning Flesh, it was clear that Body of Light's moment was here.
Every set was a new peak. Maybe it was when Alex Jarson slid on a pair of leather gloves and really started stalking the stage, microphone chord flailing like a lash. Maybe it was when the duo crashed headlong into newer songs, all anthemic slabs of icy synth, dance-heavy beats and Jarson's commanding voice welded to undeniable pop melodies, setting usually jaded crowds of punks, goths and agoraphobes into fits of nonstop ecstatic dancing. Body of Light had truly arrived.
And sure enough, in short order their first LP for dark tastemakers Dais Records duly arrived, and it was a monster. Let Me Go was everything that their recent round of live work and earlier efforts for Chondritic Sound and Ascetic House had hinted at. Let Me Go was a collection of gleaming, metronome-perfect, open-heart-surgery synth pop with a capital "S." Big-time arena moves like the milestone albums – Violator level, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret level. Despite every evidence of a pop master plan, frontman Alex Jarson plays it down: "Nothing was intentional. We just went into it hard, writing songs we thought were good and full of texture. We wanted to make songs that stood out, but also made us dance."
Given that this will be the band's first full proper tour since the release of Let Me Go last year, the Jarsons are understandably excited about both an itinerary that includes cities they've never played before and their tourmate. Enthuses Alex Jarson: "A lot of these shows are bigger capacity so we have the opportunity to play for a lot of new faces. We're big fans of Black Marble too."
In the beginning, though, bigger capacity was the last thing on Body of Light's hive mind. The band – now based in Los Angeles – got their start in 2012 in Tempe, Arizona, as part of the shadowy Ascetic House arts collective, a group of likeminded DIY enthusiasts that also gave birth to Destruction Unit and Marshstepper and a label/publishing outlet of the same name. Besides fostering some incredible musical talent – recent releases from this year take in everything from Soren Roi to Glochids – the label also undertook grand conceptual gestures like sending their cassette releases to prisoners and releasing a cassette title for every day of the month in January 2014. Body of Light's initial efforts were more based in soundscape and drone before moving on to harder dance grooves and darkwave dramatics. Alex Jarson remembers that time fondly, though: "There were so many different communities working very hard to organize everything and throw unique shows. I love Arizona and owe it so much. Ascetic House came about because we felt like we needed a direct outlet for our ideas."
Despite a somewhat menacing visual image and transgressive lyrical content, Body of Light in 2017 has the same core goal as forebears Depeche Mode or Front 242 had during their salad days: to inspire unselfconscious body movement and communal experience. Dark dance party, anyone?
Jarson readily agrees that there is a celebratory aspect to their shows and even goes one step further: "Body of Light is a powerful, energetic experience. The movement hardly ever stops. By the end of each show, I'm struggling to speak. It's just how I communicate. But it's all inclusive. Everyone is invited, so you're right, it's celebratory." And beyond that, the duo wants to offer some sonic sanctuary in times where any respite is sorely needed, concludes Jarson: "I want our shows to be a place where people can hide out at and reveal their true faces."