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Album Review: Goyf and Bodiah — ‘Goyf/Bodiah Split’


You don’t have to spend much time digging to discover talented contemporary artists in Iowa. Whether you’re a hardcore, a hip-hop head, an indie-folker or a stoner-metal enthusiast, you’re bound to find something to satisfy your particular niche in one of the state’s population hubs.

When it comes to searching for electronic music in this state, however — particularly the lesser-listened-to styles you won’t hear in Court Avenue clubs or college town bars — you’ll need to put in more time to scratch that itch.

To that end, anyone dedicated enough to prowl Bandcamp, Soundcloud or Discogs for hours has felt the satisfaction of stumbling upon something refreshing and local. The new self-titled split EP from Iowa-via-Oakland producer Goyf and Des Moines-based Bodiah delivers that satisfaction for leftfield clubbers and open-eared music lovers alike. The debut release from experimental house and techno imprint, Liminal Ennui, released in November, showcases two unique approaches to abstract dance music.

Side Goyf is arguably the more immediate of the two, characterized by atonal and temporal aggression that recalls a hardcore punk ethos. Heavily overdriven and overtonal synths on the opener “Grokked” mimic the forceful strums on some hand-me-down Ibanez before giving way to rugged kick drum thumps and static-ridden low-end pulsations. The more sporadically arranged “Biofeedback,” with its harsh yet alluring synth loop and filter effects, borders on the misanthropic missives of power electronics music. Side Goyf bores through with brute force and raw energy, an ideal soundtrack for a host of sweaty 20-somethings packed shoulder-to-shoulder in an unfinished basement, skanking the night away with abandon.

Side Bodiah, by contrast, provides the listener some more breathing room, favoring airier atmospherics and stereoscopic effects over the heavy distortion and direct-input feel of Side Goyf. Sputtering harmonic synth snatches expand and contract throughout “Con” in an almost aleatoric fashion, disintegrating and just as quickly reconstituting themselves via playful delay parameters, while the track’s stuttering rhythm section supplies forward momentum.

“Cocooned,” with a heavier low-end emphasis, skippy, compressed kick pounces, and elastic synth lurches, would fit comfortably in any left-of-center 140 DJ set. Its very title mimics the metamorphosing rhythm and atmospherics of its music that never tarry too often on the repetitive. Side Bodiah, meticulous in its sound design without sacrificing groovability, calls to mind the broken-beat excursions of London label Hyperdub or Bristol imprint Livity Sound.

What ties the two sides together is their shared penchant for atonality and rhythmic spontaneity, as well as a creative playfulness that, whether better-suited for four concrete walls or in an acoustically tuned club space, is often endearing and warrants multiple relistens to fully appreciate. Here, Goyf and Bodiah offer a taste of the musical avenues to be explored by Liminal Ennui, and any electronic music fan in Iowa worth their salt will be watching for what comes next.

The Goyf/Bodiah Split, out now on Liminal Ennui, is available digitally and on cassette tape on Bandcamp.

This article was originally published in Little Village’s January 2023 issues.


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