Boris’s epic future rock reaches new heights…
Like the edge of the universe, the cutting edge of music is a pretty indefinable place. A place of strange worlds, random lumps of rock and large void full of strange droning sounds.
Just where is the frontier in the increasingly fractured and complex mass of ideas of the 21st century?
One group who could claim some sort of knowledge of this place and oddly sound a bit like the edge of the universe themselves ,are Boris- the Japanese drone rock trio who formed ten years ago as a cross between the gonzoid grunge of Kurt Cobain’s pals the Melvins and the Seattle dark droners Earth. They are pretty out there even for a Japanese band- and Japan has this amazing tradition of future rock.
Boris went off on their own fantastic and weird journey, starting with their 2006 debut album, Absolutego, that set the template for filthy drone rock that was never content to go where it was expected.
From that point their adventures in the underground have been getting them noticed, they signed to Southern Lord records- the label that was making a name for itself for similar explosions at the edge of rock and began to get those knowing nods from the nodding knowing heads.
Their two new album(s) are two totally different works- it’s like they couldn’t even agree with themselves which band they were and went in completely opposite directions. The first one, ‘Attention please’ is a slice of ambient psychedelia. It throbs and oozes into the same sort of territory that a blissed out My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth but is coming at it from a heavy angle and less of an indie angle. Except it’s already moved on into another place. Lead Guitarist Wata steps up to do nearly all the vocals on the album and it’s her voice that gives the songs their connection.
Attention Please is a very modern trip, a lot of light years away from the sixties, this is the rush of modernity slowed down to a pulse. It’s the sound of dawn coming over a great city and the breathless lull from the the madness of night into the frantic rush of the day, that place between sleeping and rushing, that tripped out dreamscape turned into music.
There are hints of the darkest and heaviest vibes in there. Boris understand that the deadliest thing about Black Sabbath was the space, the emptiness in the sound, the gaps between the riffing, the tension that they created- they have slowed this down- incorporating the trajectory through grunge and into this eternal drone that is so effective.
Heavy Rocks is quite the opposite, it’s the band cranking it up for their trademark drone rock- the long and winding path from the supernaut, post grunge journey into the heart of darkness featuring really filthy guitars and grinding punishing grooves. Again Sabbath are the motif, that slowed down ultra heavy groove that was years ahead of the game, hated by the critics at the time but grudgingly accepted years later.
The Cult’s Ian Astbury makes a guest appearance on the opening ‘Riot Sugar’ again nodding his head to the band Boris band he so loves. Boris prove that they can still do heavy but they still find enough space in the sound to mess with your mind- a true psychedelic experience. They leave you feeling wonky and strange, which is a perfect feeling. They can still flail there hair and enjoy the amp crank on a visceral and powerful journey.
Despite its cranked up filth the blissed out innocuous of the band still leaks through and it’s this collision of styles, this collage of opposites that makes Boris really work. You never quite know where they are going next and their music really does take you on a trip.