The first thing you hear on Be Holding No Bodies, the debut album by Big Scary Indian, is a fleet of galloping horses that grows into a deafening roar. Someone lets out a scream, and it could be a warcry or a death knell; the rider or their quarry. The sample could represent the record as a whole, its songs so dense and disorienting that it feels like a constant assault on the senses.
Be Holding No Bodies is formidably carnivalesque, taking wild turns with tempo and time signature that makes it feel less math-y and more hallucinogenic. One listen is not enough to capture every detail. Maybe not even ten would suffice. That first song, “plum gut,” pairs a demented guitar riff with smeared, warped vocals and a drum beat that occasionally feels fed through a wormhole. In retrospect, it’s a template for the wilder moments, the joyous “knuckle up” and “roughly speaking” among them. These songs carry an almost absurd capacity for ideas, and seemingly no moment goes by when a sample or a processed vocal isn’t hurled around the cyclone.
Quiescence does exist here, if only in brief. When it’s not giving the listening brain a break, it usually applies an element of cinematic heft to the record. “strange lore” feels like a holdover from the AOR era, its quivering violin strings and cascading guitar plucks adding a touch of drama. “a serpent in the wind” is the obvious climax, a six-minute epic that dips and rises like a classical movement. “tilt” provides the necessary resolution, a deep breath that fades enigmatically.
A cross between the psychic inscrutability of Spirit of the Beehive and the irrepressible energy of Otoboke Beaver, Be Holding No Bodies dangles a mobile of questions overhead and refuses to provide even a hint of an answer to any of them. Some records exist to inform listeners of how the artist might sound in a live setting, while others form impenetrable sonic worlds of their own. The songs on Be Holding No Bodies could feasibly be performed live, but it also actively feels like a wormhole, bending time and space at will. It speaks in whispers and passes like a vivid dream, and when it fades there’s no option left but to play it again.