Archive for June, 2011

My big bad Boris page

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

I’ve been a huge Boris fan ever since I saw them perform live at Osaka Namba Bears on January 18th, 2003 when they were playing songs from their newly-released Akuma no Uta CD. Beat Electric and Bad Boys, two bands that have been largely forgotten by the ravages of time, opened for Boris (I wonder if they picked them so that all of the bands on the bill would have names that start with the letter B?). Before their show, I had a short chat with Atsuo the band’s drummer, in my so-so Japanese, and found out that he hates fish. A Japanese who hates fish?!?! Rare, but apparently they exist.

Anyway, I had gone to the show on the reputation of the band for playing very heavy music, so although I didn’t own any of their stuff at that point I did buy three CDs of their music – the “From Koenji To Eternity” (1996) compilation that they have one song on, the “Black: Implication Flooding” collaboration with Haino Keiji (1998), and “Amplifier Worship” (1998). I now have all of their CDs and make sure to get the new ones when they come out. I’ll be reviewing their music here.

Needless to say, the concert changed my life, and and surely also the lives of the handful of people in attendance (maybe more than just a handful as the club was actually quite packed, but not that much more – although it is owned by legendary Boredoms guitarist Yamazaki Seiichi and is a shrine of indie coolness, this club in the basement of a hard-to-find building on an innocuous downtown Osaka sidestreet is no larger than a single-car garage and could never fit more than 100 people if they squeezed in like sardines). I was inches away from Wata, the guitarist, and Takeshi, the bassist/lead singer; I also recorded the show for posterity… but this legendary performance is quite unfortunately trapped on VHS. Some day I shall free it… if I ever figure out how to access the technology.

For those who can’t understand Boris, just think of three musicians with a lot of expensive vintage and modern equipment experimenting with sound, producing something which comes out sounding something like Black Sabbath meets Sonic Youth via Celtic Frost, while ambitiously traveling through every musical style in the book (they lingered too long on drone, and I think that this is haunting them… hence the recent experiments in avant-pop to cleanse the palate).

Boris is Atsuo on drums, Takeshi on bass and Wata on guitar. All of them go by single names, just like like Madonna, Pele and Cher do; there are some theories about their family names on the Wikipedia entry for Boris, but I don’t want to spoil anybody’s fun here. They seem to have taken the place of the Boredoms as the US indie/alternative community’s favorite Japanese collaborators, and while at one time the Boredoms (or maybe mainly just Eye, and sometimes even Yoshimi) would collaborate with the Sonic Youth/John Zorn New York crowd, Boris seems closer to the Southern Lord Records and Hydra Head Records crew. They have also “added” band members, it seems, as Michio Kurihara and Merzbow have collaborated with them many, many times (six times for the former and seven times for the latter). The band has also collaborated with members of Acid King, the Abnormals, the Cult, Isis, Mad 3, Sunn 0))), Soundgarden, as well as Masonna. Finally, they are in the habit of putting out split releases, and so far have done this with Barebones, Tomsk, Choukoku no Niwa, The Dudley Corporation, Doomriders, Stupid Babies Go Mad, Torche and 9dw. Find out more about them on their wiggly official website (type Boris Heavy Rocks into a search engine gets the welcome page, you need to click on the Akuma no Uta character to get access to the full site – watch out, it moves when you hover over it!) which also has a funky gallery of their releases, t-shirts, pins, stickers and other groovy paraphenelia, most of which is sold out.

They are also incredibly prolific – since they started in 1996, every year they put out multiple CDs, LPs, singles, splits and collaborations every year, with alternate versions galore (they took a break in 2001 – no releases in 2001 that I can trace). And while they seem off to a good start in 2011 with four releases, they still have quite a way to go to match their most prolific year, 2005: four full lengths, a single, a DVD and three compilations.

They also pretty regularly put out multiple releases on the same day. The three Archive CDs were released on the same day in October, 2005; the same goes for:

  • the CDs Attention Please and Heavy Rocks, both released on May 24th, 2011
  • the EPs Chapter Ahead Being Fake and Golden Dance Classics, both released on August 19th, 2009
  • the CDs The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 2 and The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 3, both released on April 9th, 2006
  • the CD Pink and the DVD Heavy Metal Me, both released November 18th 2005
  • the CD Boris at Last: – Feedbacker and the DVD Boris live at Shimokitazawa Shelter, both released December 25th, 2003

In one way or another, Boris also seems to have a penchant for releasing stuff on holidays. While I may have missed something, what I’ve been able to pick out so far is that:

  • Japanese Heavy Rock Hits, Volume 3, were both released on Japan’s Labour Thanksgiving Day, November 23rd, 2009
  • The US version of Smile was released on the Show emperor’s birthday (a.k.a. Showa no hi), April 29th, 2008
  • The Sunn 0))) and Boris recording Altar was released on Hallowe’en, October 31st, 2006
  • The CD Boris at Last: – Feedbacker and the DVD Boris live at Shimokitazawa Shelter were both released on Christmas day, December 25th, 2003

As the story goes, Boris is named after the Melvins song “Boris”, from that band’s second album Bullhead.

CD and DVD reviews

  • 2011

Intro to Boris’ 2011: Boris has released four discs this year: they put out Klatter (February 23rd), New Album (March 16th), and on May 24th they put out both Heavy Rocks (2011) and Attention Please (no big deal – they’ve got a long history of putting out multiple releases on the same day; see above). I guess they are making up for a relatively quiet three years – since the Smile madness of 2008, they’ve mainly only released/co-released singles, as well as an EP with Ian Ashbury of the Cult.

Impressive while all this may seem like an Olympic effort in terms of all of those other rock underachievers (hello Axl Rose), this is still a notch off some of their machine-like pre-2001 productivity – if you take away all of the covers of other people’s songs on these four albums (one) and re-recordings of older songs (four), or the doubling of songs across the releases (seven songs appear twice across all of these discs), it’s more like they have only 23 real new songs instead of the 35 that are listed on these four releases. Yes, very confusing. But hey – that’s Boris.

BHR2011

BHR2011

Heavy Rocks, Boris full-length, released May 24th, 2011, Sargent House records and Daymare Recordings – rock – This album of mixed genre songs has the same title of a rockin’ 2002 release as well as an identical album art concept, except in a different colour scheme (this one is purple, the previous one had been orange) to tell them apart (at least they didn’t pull another Vein on fans, where they released separate albums with 100% identical artwork). Heavy Rocks 2002 had been Boris’ first significant attempt to collaborate with outside musicians, and opening track “Heavy Friends” had guest vocals from Lori of Acid King, as well as musical meetings with Masonna (“Dyna-Soar”), Merzbow (“Wareruraide”, which became the first of their many collaborations), Eddie Legend of Mad 3 (“Koei”) and Komi of Abnormals (“Kane – The Bell Tower Of A Sign-”). This time around, they work with Ian Astbury on one track (a small part in the opening song, possibly a leftover from the BXI sessions that produced at least four songs), regular collaborator Michio Kurihara (three songs), and musicians Kensuke Saito, Yoshiko Kawakita, not to foget pianist Faith Coloccia and her husband, Hydra Head Records founder and Isis guitarist and vocalist Aaron Turner. And while Heavy Rocks 2002 seemed to have a consistent rock theme, Heavy Rocks 2011 draws from all phases of Boris’ career, from hard rockers to long and noisy drone buildups to weird pop songs. At 52 minutes, it is also the longest of Boris’ four releases (so far) in 2011 and has the loudest song (“Missing Pieces”).

Opening track “Riot Sugar” starts with cool crunchy guitars, before exploding into real blistering stoner gloom. The verses are typical airy Boris, and some of the parts are just smashing chords. Beautiful high energy here. Ian Astbury only shows up with some background roars (i.e. he’s under-used – who roars in the background more than 30 years into the trade? I guess the band was simply turning the tables on Astbury, whose brassy voice dominated the three songs of the BXI EP that he sings on). “Leak -Truth, yesnoyesnoyes-”, besides being a sucky song title, is also boring lite pop/Bee Gees-style crooning, although there’s also some nice needly guitarwork from Michio Kurihara at the beginning and in some parts throughout. Things get into regular rock mode for “GALAXIANS” (yes, there was an arcade game in the 1980s called Galaxian, and the song opens with what seems to be sounds from the game), that fairly roars and zips along – smash smash smash smash. Kensuke Saito, whoever he is, plays analog synth on this track. “Jackson Head” is groovy, funky fun and very stupid, “Jackson Head” shouted over and over again – kind of like Grinderman! Great rock ‘n’ roll. This version sounds quite similar to the one on “New Album”, minus the big techno keyboards and other embellishments, such as vocoder vocals. “Missing Pieces” is a standard gloomy Boris song, with sad guitar sounds opening it up, some mumbled Takeshi vocals, and after three minutes its first big loud Michio Kurihara-fueled crescendo. At 12:23 it is the second-longest song on the album, and it goes on and on and on and on, building and receding, building and receding. Halfway through the song, everything bursts open into a huge two minute-long squeal-a-thon with that is going to sound amazing for anyone who gets to hear it live. The last three minutes of the song picks it up again, placid and warm until the song’s final freak-out…

Okay, so that’s the first half of the album. “Key” is a droney wailing intro to a song that never starts – we get all the buildup, and then hear the sound of a vocalist inhaling as if to start singing, and then we break go right into “Window Shopping”, a silly pop rocker that starts with girly voices saying “cho’to tomete”, and while there are a few lines of singing/speaking at the beginning by guest vocalist Yoshiko Kawakita, the song’s entire lyrics are “do do dooo” over crunchy chords and some great Michio Kurihara squealing guitar. Weird. “Tu, La La” is a stripped-down version of the song that appears on New Album, it’s a mid-tempo rocker, not so noisy. It has a nice, warm solo. “Aileron” is a long, slowed-down, electrified and stretched out version of the short snatch of acoustic instrumental tunery on “Attention Please”, it groons on and on and on… Pianist Coloccia and Turner play on this track, but it’s hard to tell what they are contributing – the credits say Turner is on voices, guitar and loops, and I guess the nice piano piece in the last minute of the track is Coloccia. The song is a bit longer than “Missing Pieces”, but is less interesting. The album closes with “Czechoslovakia”, a chunky metal track that sounds like it’s just part of a longer song.

The album artwork of Heavy Rocks 2011 is nearly the same as that for Heavy Rocks 2002, except it’s done in purple instead of orange. The inlay and back doesn’t use ink, it’s transparent varnish on top of matte paper. For the 2011 release they use better/thicker varnish, so it’s easier to see/read what’s on the inlay and disc back. Inside the four-panel folded inlay, it opens up to show lyrics and credits. Then there are three cut-outs, one for each member – cut-outs, meaning CD inlay-sized slices paper. Is Boris trying to encourage trading cards for rock stars? “I’ll trade you my Marianne Faithful for your Wata.” Whether they are or aren’t, it’s certainly something they’ve never done before, and it sure is interesting.

Gaps between some of the songs on this album are a bit abrupt, and “Riot Sugar” goes way too quickly into “Leak -Truth, yesnoyesnoyes-” before it has fully faded out, almost to the point that you think there’s been a goof-up in the manufacture or mixing of the disc.

BAP

BAP

Attention Please, Boris full-length, released May 24th, 2011, Sargent House records and Daymare Recordings - pop – This is the heavily-anticipated all-Wata-vocals Boris CD, where she sings every song except for the acoustic instrumental “Aileron”. But, while the concept of having an all-Wata song sounds so cool, maybe having her sing on all the songs isn’t really such a novelty after all, since by the time of this release she has actually already sung on 12 songs since her vocal debuted with “Rainbow” in 2006 (and, of course, they’ve released four versions of that song over the years, including two live versions). There were four of her tracks on “New Album”, one on “Altar”, four on the “Japanese Heavy Rock Hits” EP series (including the cover of Earth & Fire’s “Seasons”), and she also sang the cover of the Cult’s “Rain” on BXI.

Five of the songs on this release have appeared previously, most of them on New Music(“Hope”, “Party Boy”, “Les Paul Custom ’86″ and “Spoon”), but one appeared on the Golden Dance Classics split with disco funk outfit 9dw (“Tokyo Wonder Land”) in 2009. Opening song “Attention Please” starts off with bass and drum, then some squeaky guitar from Michio Kurihara, before Wata’s vocals come in moaning and groaning. It sounds like something Julee Cruise might have done for a David Lynch project. “Hope” is a sweet, light hit that is a bit sparsely-produced compared to its companion on “New Album”. “Party Boy” starts off with groovy bass hits – it’s a sweet pop song but, again, it’s a stripped-down version of the one on “New Album”, which has a hyperdrive chorus. “See You Next Week” is sweet and airy and seems to be only Wata’s voice, a teeny weeny bit of guitar, and some peculiar background percussion. “Tokyo Wonder Land” is a sparse little song that has a basic beat, some pretty Wata vocals, and then an absolutely screeching solo. The Golden Dance Classics version is less slick, a bit noisier, and has Takeshi singing; the solo on that version is duller, and there are hardly any lyrics at all except “na na na, na na na, naaaaaaaa”, I think Wata does a better job. “You” is a sleepy song, kind of like “The Sinking Belle” from Altar; Shinobu Narita (whoever he is) appears on this track. Slow and sleepy. “Aileron” is a short instrumental bit played on acoustic guitar, it has a bit of a Spanish flamenco sound to it and is played by Eiji Hashizume; I believe that it’s possible that no members of Boris play on this track. “Les Paul Custom ’86″ is an experimental song that has occasional heavy bass chords (nice), and Wata’s singing, which is sometime sung, sometimes spoken, sometimes whispered, and brief phrases of Takeshi’s vocals as well. There are sound effects too, like car revving, and coughing. Goofy. The “New Album” version has stronger Takeshi vocals, more electronics, and no heavy bass chords, but there’s vocal manipulation and coughing and some fake strings – sparse. “Spoon” is a fun pop rocker, although without the keyboard treatment on its “New Album” version it’s a bit less than what it should be. Album closer “Hand in Hand” is guitar, sound effects and voice, it’s spooky and a bit scary!

The packaging is okay. There are lots of pictures of Wata – which is what male fans of Boris have probably been dreaming about forever; but she’s dressed up in some sort of weird 1920s flapper outfit with a pageboy haircut holding a wand and posing with some sort of black a shawl, and it’s a bit too fanciful. Lyrics. Yawn.

Attention Please was a manga in the 1970s, it was about airline stewardesses. More recently it’s been made into a TV series. Here’s an image of the poster for that series.

AP

AP

I got the same-day-release Boris Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please CDs via mail order from US label Sargent House in a package that also came with a cool white on grey t-shirt. It wasn’t easy, because I live in Singapore, which is one of only a handful of countries their shipping agent doesn’t sell to (because of online fraud!!!), making their policies quite significantly different from Amazon and Rise Above Records and Orange Amps and all of the other companies that ship to Singapore without qualm… but oh well, whatever, every problem has its solution and I got the stuff in the end. Here are some pics of the deal.

Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please came with a t-shirt

Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please came with a t-shirt

Comparison: Heavy Rocks 2002 (left) and Heavy Rocks 2011 (right)

Comparison: Heavy Rocks 2002 (left) and Heavy Rocks 2011 (right)

BNA

BNA

New Album, Boris full-length, released March 16th, 2011, Daymare Recordings – pop – While Klatter may be the most consistent and predictable of the four albums that Boris has released in 2011 (so far), “New Album” is in many ways the most interesting and the most fun. First of all, it’s stuff that they’ve definitely never done before as a band – they’ve done everything on this release including avant garde J-Pop and shoegaze! This all produces a variety of emotions – at first you don’t want to believe it’s Boris, and then you want to be thoroughly disgusted, and finally you want to say… hey, this is good fun, I think I like it! Some of the songs are to be heard on the Wata-sung “Attention Please” (“Party Boy”, “Hope”, “Les Paul Custom ’86″ and “Jackson Head”), but with Takeshi doing some vocals. Let’s try everything out and see what appeals.

Opening song “Flare” is very standard J-Pop, with all of the frantic singing (by Takeshi), drum grooning and weird scratchy guitar somewhere in the mix. Boris Is Super Pop Freak-Show! But somehow I like the song very much, including the wonked out mini-solo. Crunchy Boris elements enter at the end of this funky wonk-out. Groovy. “Hope” starts off electronically, then gets into some serious shoegaze, sung by Wata. The song is very of-an-era. “Party Boy” has bloops and bleeps and harp and beats, then some zooming super big muff fuzzes. It’s a great song (the version on Attention Please is much more stripped down, less fuzzed out and with fewer beats – boring). “Black Original” is big, ugly keyboard noise, the biggest and loudest Boris has ever played on keyboards and a drum machine instead of bass, guitar and drums. Talk about experimental!! The version that appeared on Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Volume 2 in 2009 sounded pretty plain as it didn’t have this album’s plentiful electronic embellishments. “Pardon?” is a breath-y crooner by Takeshi that oozes along at a snail’s pace. The solo is like something Pink Floyd might have had on Meddle, it’s awesome!! “Spoon” is a very shoe-gazey song that just zooms and zooms into My Bloody Valentine territory (the production of “Spoon” on Attention Please is a bit more sparse, much less exciting). Beautiful. “Jackson Head” is a thick, head-on techno freakout from Primal Scream’s best moments, with lots of weird ghost noises on top of it, it just goes on and on and on, also in wavering weird vocals (the “Heavy Rocks” version boogs out with lots of extra special effects, but it’s a very similar version). “Les Paul Custom ’86″ starts off with drums and guitar groans, Takeshi’s moaning vocals, then it becomes Wata’s song, full of drum drone and electronic sounds, coughing and other irritating noises, and some sort of “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” symphonic notes. It ends on the words “Echo… echo… echo… echo… echo…” (the “Attention Please” version of “Les Pal Custom ’86″ is half as long and starts off with the song proper that Wata sings, but adds cool bass barre chords that just ring and ring. Great! A bit of interplay and coughing and strange noise, but it is a real song). “Tu, La La” is a J-Pop song like the opener “Flare”, but it has at least a few big crunches of guitar before all of the atmospheric vocals and strings come in (there’s also a version of it on Heavy Rocks that is 10 seconds longer – it sounds very similar, but doesn’t have strings). “Looprider” has frantic drums, guitars and strings, not to mention vocals, and it just goes on and on, ending with the same sounds that start off the album. Nice song. I wonder if they’ll play it live.

Normally, this music might seem innocuous, but because it’s Boris doing it… it’s cool… it’s ironic… it’s baffling… it’s a clear and obvious artistic choice (i.e. no studio monsters forced them to make the music sound this way).

Beware – according to their site, Boris is gearing up to launch “New Album” print boxer shorts!

BK

BK

Klatter, Boris with Merzbow, full-length, released February 23rd, 2011, Daymare Recordings – rock and noise – Klatter is Boris’ sixth collaboration with Merzbow, and their fourth studio project with the noise merchant after Megatone (2002), Sun Baked Snow Cave (2005) and Walrus & Groon (2007). In many ways, this one is the most satisfying to the deep-down Boris fan of the four releases they put out in the first part of 2011, as it offers the most traditional “Boris sound,” and the greatest meandering; then again, it also offers the least new music, with only two new songs in addition to two re-recordings of Boris songs from the “Akuma no Uta” release and one cover (and another unconventional one at that – German Krautrock band Jane’s “Jane-Session” from their Jane III; I’d never heard of this band before, which begs the question why they would cover an obscure band from an obscure genre).

But every song is stunning in its own way. “Introduction” is moody sounds that are almost like the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter”. “Akuma no Uta” is a very faithful adaptation of the title track of their 2003 release, and it has lots of Merzbow noise thrown in at strategic points. It’s nice enough, but not quite the fearsome roar that he made to accompany the songs on live release “Rock Dream” that at times drowned out the band itself. “Jane-Session” is a cover of a song by Jane, from the album Jane III, released in 1974. Boris’ version is a meandering masterpiece that goes on for 12 minutes (the original was only four minutes long) that is pure cool bass groaning skronk, while the guitar goes on and on in an insane wah threnody. Groovy. The first time I heard it, I thought that it was a Boris song, but eventually when I heard a bit of a dated Krautrock sound come in, and a sudden fast punkish bit I began to suspect that it wasn’t one of their originals. But that’s okay, Boris is known for playing unconventional covers, such as “Seasons” by Dutch psychedelic rockers “Earth & Fire” and Japanese super-group PYG’s “Flower – Sun – Rain”. This one doesn’t quite sound like Boris’ own, since it doesn’t go the way the PYG cover does with Boris really taking over the sound, but it’s a nice and tasty treat nonetheless. The instrumental “Klatter 1″ sounds like straightforward steamroller beat of some heavy Krautrock, and it’s very good fun. Bleeding out of this is the final song, “Naki Kyoku”, which is a great re-recording of their classic from the “Akuma no Uta” relese, with plenty of Merzbow’s patented “krinkly cellophane noise” to keep it from getting too bluesy. This is the third version of this song that I’ve got from the band, and at over 15 minutes it’s also the longest. Great stuff, guys, great great great.

  • 2010
BXI

BXI

BXI, Boris and Ian Astbury, EP, released August 16th, 2010 – rock – BXI is the so-so collaboration project between Boris and Ian Astbury of The Cult/The Doors fame. Ian Astbury seems to be the active ingredient in this mix, as the songs have a greater Cult flair than a Boris flair, which means that there are no glorious feedback-drenched moments, nor any whispering experimentation (Boris turned the tables with Astbury’s contribution to the opening track of Heavy Rocks 2011, “Riot Sugar”, where his contribution hardly adds up to background vocals of any but the thinnest variety, completely superfluous). The first song “Teeth and Claws” is a pretty average rocker, punctuated with the Astbury wail that is sounding a wee bit thin, urging us to “Attack attack attack/Animals will save us.” The song ends with a young girl speaking Japanese, finally saying in English “the animals will save us.” This must be the Wata and Atsuo’s daughter Yema, whose voice I suppose it is that we hear baby-squealing at the beginning of Smile’s “Buzz-In. The most exciting thing about “We are Witches” is the title. “Rain” is a cover of the famous Cult song sung by Wata, Ian is nowhere to be seen, and it’s done in shoegazer-ish fashion with Wata giving a deadpan, sweet-sounding and droning vocal delivery. Additional guitar wails are provided by Kurihara Michio, the band’s fourth member on a semi-permanent basis. Closing number “Magickal Child” is a bit more in Boris form, slow and loud and heavy.

BV

Boris, Variations

Variations, Boris compilation CD and live DVD, released June 2nd, 2010 – live rock and drone - A CD compiling the best Boris songs from six of their regular releases (as well as a b-side from one of their singles, i.e. “Floor Shaker” from “Statement”) along with a DVD of their live shows called “Live in Japan”, meaning the Smile tour, as recorded on December 14, 2008 (see also the Live at Wolf Creek CD) as well as three songs from the December 22, 2009 show. If you have the entire Boris discography like me, this may not be crucial in the sense of the CD, although some of the songs have been re-recorded and sound a bit tougher. But the DVD is very much worth having, simply because there are fewer Boris video captures available out there than there are audio captures. The first part shows the whole Smile concert, exactly the same set list that they recorded at Wolf Creek, with Wata playing a black Les Paul, and Takeshi on his headless double bass/guitar set. The band starts off with an intense version of “花 太陽 雨 – Flower Sun Rain” (the PYG cover) that is all drowned out in amazing bright lights and echoes, a long, generous version of the Japanese classic. After three minutes, we get the first guitar solo, all screams and blind fantasy, and then the killer solo at 6:20, when Wata really cuts loose, in front of her Orange speakers, and fuckin’ gets the lead out. Beautiful, she drenches the final minutes of the track in full, long guitar solo feedback virtuosity – the track is slightly shorter than the US CD release version, but it’s even more intense (hard to believe). Stunning! Check out the beautiful (and misleading) interval between “Laser Beam” and “Pink”. The concert goes on and on, all lights and fog and soft loud guitar parts, with Takeshi standing tall and cool throughout playing his headless double-neck bass/guitar, Wata cool and poised in a red dress with knee-high boots, and Atsuo wearing an open white silk shirt and black pants and just going crazy throughout. Second guitarist Kurihara Michio appears to be a bit of an odd man out, standing off to the side of the stage and wailing away on his Gibson SG, often using an E-bow to do so.

The editing of the video seems to jump around quite a bit from various shots and styles, showing the band in a type of granular setting that looks a bit unprofessional, as well as various types of close shots. Initially, the editing is a bit jumpy, changing quickly from one to the other member of the band, as if they were all boy band members. The mood eventually becomes more rock ‘n’ roll, as the band works on freaking out to the great songs that Takeshi sings. Rock on! Rock on!! Rock on!!!

With “bonus tracks” the band show three songs “Tokyo Wonderland”, “a bao a qu” and “Farewell” without the high production flourishes of the first part (although this is sometimes missed – we see several shots of Wata that look a bit spliced-in, i.e. taken out of sequence). Here Takeshi seems to be playing a new double-head guitar, probably a Rickenbacker of some sort, with proper heads. Kurihara Michio is so hard to spot you’d think he wasn’t there, but you do see him from time to time – barely.

Check out the recently-created Boris “Variations” Wikipedia page.

  • 2009
JHRH1

JHRH1

JHRH2

JHRH2

JHRH3

JHRH3

Japanese Heavy Rock Hits, Parts 1-4, Boris EP series, released September 29th 2009, October 27th 2009, November 23rd 2009, November 24th 2009, all on Southern Lord records – experimental, avant garde and pop - This vinyl-only release came in four versions – three were commercially available, and the fourth was available for people who bought all three at one shot as series subscribers. Each of the three has a cover of one of the band members and were released in September (with Takeshi on the cover), October (Atsuo) and November (Wata). Maybe they were doing what KISS and the Melvins did, releasing multiple albums that were “owned” by single band members. Part 4 for series subscribers was released in December.

Part one’s opening song “8″ is a catchy number that I swear I’ve heard Boris do before under another name, but I can’t seem to find it. It has a long build-up of doomy guitars before busting out in a fast pop rocker. Go crazy! It’s full of gurgling beats and squirming solos with catchy background singing over Atsuo’s languid vocals. Great. “Hey Everyone” is gloomier, grunging along with sinister background vocals, but it’s still pretty standard stuff. On part two, “H.M.A. (Heavy Metal Addict)” starts off with weird electronic beats, some guitar, some screeching, before becoming a big bad pounder with cheerleading vocals and football match hysteria. It repeats the acronym H.M.A. stupidly and endlessly. Great stuff. That’s followed by the original “Black Original”, which is also to be heard in a glamified version on “New Album”. It’s jazzy and breezy and pretty lite, but spooky and hynotizing nonetheless. Kicking off part three, the one with the Wata cover, “16:47:52…” is a chilly, sweet little number sung by Wata herself that lumbers along slightly. “…And Hear Nothing” is a big loud groaning anthem in the vein of “Farewell” and “[]”. The final disc has “Seasons”, a cover of the Dutch psychedelic band Earth & Fire, sung by Wata in its full twin axe psychedelic glory, with hints of Scorpions guitar. The original is a bit poppier, this one is edgier (hear both below in the Covers section), but as with so many of the other covers that Boris has tried it’s not quite the defining tune that “Flower Sun Moon” is. However, with Wata singing it, it does make for pleasant, head-nodding pleasure.

Check out the “trailers” to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Here’s the infamous video for “H.M.A. (Heavy Metal Addict)”, where they edited in a video by visual kei band SEX-Virgin Killer- to ape for the song.

This is what a SEX-Virgin Killer- video Boris ripped off looks like for real:

  • 2008
CC

CC

Cloud Chamber, Boris with Michio Kurihara, full-length, released December 23rd 2008, Pedal Records – drone - What we’ve got here is… a dull, uniform package of two near equal-length songs (“Cloud Chamber 1″ and “Cloud Chamber 2″) and a total of 36 minutes of moodiness and feedback from Boris and Michio Kurihara. The songs are nearly drumless, although there is a bit of cymbal in the middle of the first tune, as the mellow jam builds up to buzz-saw intensity, before subsiding amidst Tangerine Dream-like electronic burbling. “Cloud Chamber 2″ is long, swooping guitar soloing, with ever-increasing electronic noise and sound effects. It hurts the ears, but it sure is mental! Although Merzbow is not on this song, it sure sounds like he is, given the electronic chaos going on. Four minutes before the end of the song they shut down the noise and build up again from a slow, low drone until it is cut off abruptly. Who knows how long it could have gone on for?! Must have been a gas in the studio that day.

CABF

CABF

Chapter Ahead Being Fake, Boris and Torche split single, released August 19th 2009, Daymare Recordings – drone - This split single has two really great songs. It starts off with Boris’ “Luna” (a song that’s also available on an Adult Swim compilation, by the way), that opens with quiet guitar, then big fat chords, and finally a heavy drum spaz-out that takes the rest of the song into high BPMs. It rolls along, with lots of sweet background vocals and heavy drums, but not too much guitar noise throughout. The final few minutes are slowdown, chillout mood as the song becomes Floyd-y… and then bursts up in a big, evil, grooning slobberfest. Torche’s “King Beef” is a drum-heavy industrial metal assault, with yelling and buzzsaw guitars (it bears some resemblance to Ministry’s “Thieves”). Groove-y. And also very groovy.

GDC

GDC

Golden Dance Classics, Boris and 9dw split EP, released August 19th 2009, CATUNE records – pop - A freaky mis-match made in Hell. 9dw produces weird drum and keyboard-driven techno funk; they’re called “Stingray” and “Spice”, but I wouldn’t say that they’re that exactly. The two songs on this split are without vocals and sort of drone on and on and on. Yes, lots of cheezy ’70s keyboard to be heard here. It’s funny, but is it an ethos?

The first Boris song is “Tokyo Wonder Land” and it’s an earlier, longer, less-produced version of the song that appeared in 2011 on Attention Please. It’s slow and dull and doesn’t really have much in the way of musical excitement, and the vocalists mostly just drawl along, and there’s one weird, needly guitar solo. But hey – it’s something very different from Boris! “Akirame Flower” is a weird shoegazer tune that drawls along on the back of fuzzed-out guitars and squirty, sputtering sound effects. Soothing and irritating at the same time.

SLAWC

SLAWC

Smile -Live at Wolf Creek, Boris and Michio Kurihara double-live, released November 21st 2008, Daymare Recordings – live rock - Pretty standard live double album, not too different from “Rock Dream” (except, maybe, for the absence of Merzbow providing electronic roar) and Boris’ side of the “Long Hair and Tights” split double LP. The album is very much “new rock Boris” in that is plays all of the tracks off Smile, while adding one from Pink, one from Rainbow, and one B-side. It tends to stretch out the songs, as most are longer on this live release as they had been on studio versions.

It starts off with a near 9-minute long version of “Flower Sun Rain”, the longest of the versions they’ve done – this one, like the rest, has a slow, menacing drive, but builds up to a solo that strips paint. Can’t get enough of songs like this beauty. The treatment of the songs is more or less as on the albums, although I’d say that the solo on “Laser Beam” is particularly nutty. “Floor Shaker”, a relatively unknown song as it was the B-side of the “Statement” single, is pretty damn cool in a wannasingalong kinda way, and the grind is driving and steady. Love it. It has a lot more energy than the version that appears on “Variations” (the only other version I could find), which is marred by weird electronics at the end and much less of a funky beat (i.e. this version is tons better than the studio version). The solo for “Rainbow” is ultra jarring, harsh and abrupt. Wow! Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that “My Neighbour Satan” also has a little something extra on the end of it that the two studio versions (which are a minute shorter) don’t have. After this the songs keep getting longer and longer. “枯れ果てた先 – Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki – No One’s Grieve” is over nine minutes. It has an intro that is spooky as hell, but then it just plain kicks ass, with tons of noise and feedback and a hell-bent pulsing beat that just doesn’t give up. Wow! That’s followed by a sorrowful 14-minute version of “君は傘をさしていた – You were holding an umbrella”, stretching it out well beyond the nine minutes of the US version of Smile. After four minutes of chilled-out mellowness, it begins to build up into an insane fever pitch, with big drums and super squeals and big booming chords. The song weaves and meanders, and then builds up into a big, zooming drum patch, that is quickly overtaken by sweet guitar strains glomming the air above and the space between the ears, the base pulsing and keeping things grounded. But by the end, it’s too not needed any more – everything has become a weird freakout. Closing song “[]”, at nearly 27 minutes, is by far the longest track on the album (and, again, the longest version of this song that they’ve done so far, eight minutes longer than the next-longest sucker – although the DVD version on Variations is just slightly longer… 10 seconds longer, actually…). It starts with weird backwards guitar sounds, and then supreme bass tones, chilling around before being attacked after four minutes by sudden squeal from Michio Kurihara’s Gibson SG and a savage drum attack from Atsuo. Ouch! After two minutes of that, it goes back to Pink Floyd mode for… quite a while… beginning with a bit of drum buildup and some real spazz-out at the 11.5 minute mark. Big, grungy chords and soaring vocals just go go go!! After some meandering around, the last 7.5 minutes are just a pure smash-out! Destroy!!!! The band ends it abruptly, saying “Thanks, see you.”

The packaging – like the Japanese version of Smile, Smile – Live At Wolf Creek is a big, puffy heart-shaped pillow-like CD packaging. It folds out like a limp double-gate LP and is very nice to touch. There is an inlay of lyrics, printed in gray on black paper, a combination of Japanese lyrics and English production notes (the Smile CD is similar, but in yellow, and the inlay is on yellow paper with silver print – Boris will use the same concept of repeating its packaging concept but changing colors again when it creates a companion to Heavy Rocks, a 2003 release, by putting out Heavy Rocks 2011).

Smile
Smile (US version), Boris full-length, released April 29th, 2008, Southern Lord Records – rock - While it is not as much fun as most of the last several Boris releases, Smile is still a lot better than “Altar,” that strange disc that Boris made with Sunn 0))) and a bunch of other people. “Smile” starts off with “Flower Sun Rain”, a nice mellow song that they had previously recorded on “Rock Dream” that is just as good as the original and contains a sheer, blistering guitar solo that is cut off before jumping into the baby babble (which probably comes from Wata and Atsuo’s daughter Yema) that leads off “Buzz-In,” a shouting and blistering rocker that could easily have been on “Pink.” Ditto for “Laser Beam,” which is some parts Judas Priest, some parts Guitar Wolf. “Statement” is a so-so rocker, while “My Neighbour Satan” is a boring J-popper,although the guitar freakouts are sufficient enough to satisfy my nonetheless. “Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki” sounds a bit different – very fast, very blurred and speedy. The guitar noise eventually fades a bit, and there are the vocals. “No Ones Grieve” doesn’t leave much of an impression. “You Were Holding An Umbrella” has a lot of tinny drum machine until nearly four minutes into the song when it rips apart into a ton of ugly feedback. Glorious, the best song on the album. This song has Michio Kurihara on it, and I suppose he sticks around for the next track, simply called “[]”, which also has one of the Sunn (0))) guys in it. It is sort of boring, except for a few moments of really deep deep bass. Buying this through Amazon I could get a card which allowed me to download an additional track, a live version of “You Were Holding An Umbrella,” which is okay. Some critics, inevitably, feel that the Japanese version of this is much better.

Here’s a nice video of Boris doing “Statement” from the US release (on the Japanese version it’s called “Message” and opens the CD, but it’s a very different and longer version).

SB
Smile (Japanese version), Boris full-length, released March 7th 2008, Diwphalanx Records – rock - All Music says that this version of Smile is better than the US version in the quality of the mixes, as well as the versions. Granted the packaging is better – while the US version is a regular CD with a picture of an airplane and nothing special about it, the Japanese version is packed in floppy plastic and sponge, with a transparent heart window. Nice. Opening song “Message” is weird drum machines with some soprano vocals, and bursts of squealing guitar. “Buzz In” starts off with baby sounds, probably from Wata and Atsuo’s daughter Yema, then become a regular blasting rocker. “Let Go” is all over the place with strange abrasive guitar sounds and more drum machine weirdness, ending with pretty acoustic guitar. “Flower Sun Rain” sounds similar to the version that opens the US release. “My Neighbour Satan” sounds like a pop song from Spitz, while “Karehatetasaki” is a monster rocker that is full of sound and buzz and pounds on unrelentingly. “You Were Holding An Umbrella” gets off to a mellow start for the first four and a half minutes before fading out and coming back in a big way with really BIG feedback and noise………….

  • 2007
BMRD

BMRD

Rock Dream, Boris with Merzbow, double live, released October 26th, 2007, Southern Lord Records – live rock and noise- Rock Dream really is a rock dream, it is a live recording done with Merzbow producing some of the background sound effects that bassist Tetsuo sometimes does while Wata plays her Les Paul. It’s very Pink Floyd somewhat. On this live recording, the band plays songs from seven albums (the set list is highly disciplined – except for the five songs from Pink, there’s only one cut per album), as well as a new song, “Evil Stack”.

The first CD starts off with a 35-minute version of Feedbacker, shortened from the 43-minute length of the studio album version. The long guitar intro is a bit different from the album, but after nine minutes it starts to sound familiar again as the brush drums start their light jazzy interlude. Going through all of the heavy interludes, it eventually fades out marvelously (albeit with some Merz-squeals), before the tunes pick up with the shatteringly loud, soaring “Black Out.” “Evil Stack” is just noise and squealing, but “Rainbow” and “Pink” are fantastic, sounding spotlessly perfect, even with the squealing. Later on there is a cool version of the gloomy “The Evil One Who Sobs,” which becomes perfectly hellacious as it goes on and on. Being a Boris live album, they tend to play their songs quite faithful to the original albums, but in this case they are sometimes very nearly drowned out by Merzbow’s incredible noise!

My CD is the Southern Lord release, which may not look so great in this pic but is actually a two picture sleeves (for the two CDs, four sides, one for each “member” of Boris/Merzbow). The lettering is cut out, and it shows the inside sleeve, you can pick your favourite band member to display in there, but I would think that Wata would always be the one you’d find in there because her picture looks the coolest (it’s almost always like that, actually). The release is limited to 5,000 and Amazon was kind enough to send me number 4,985. Whew – lucky I ordered when I did!!!

SSH

SSH

She’s So Heavy, Wata and Aso Ai split single, released August 24th, 2007, Diwphalanx Records – pop - The title is ironic – neither song on this split is heavy, just as neither song has anything to do with the Beatles song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. The first song is by Ai Aso, she does a cover of the title track of King Crimson’s 1971 release “Islands”. It has dreamy vocals, a bit of drumming, and spare guitar. It is much shorter than the original, and it also adds drum to a song that was originally drumless (but hopped up on trumpet and mellotron). Actually, I am not sure who Ai Aso is, but it seems that she co-wrote “My Neighbour Satan” with Boris for Smile, so she must be a friend of the band, a talented musician, or both.

Wata sings “Angel”, a song by Kitamura Masashi (北村昌士), an old school indie guy who had been in YBO2 (i.e. Japan’s version of Killing Joke) and performed with countless indie legends. I can’t find the original anywhere to compare it, but Wata’s cover is even sparer than Ai Aso’s, with light guitar, some tambourine and simple vocals (where Ai Aso’s vocals sounded dreamy and produced). However, it does finally get “heavy” with a squalling Les Paul solo.

BSSGM

BSSGM

Damaged, Boris and Stupid Babies Go Mad split single, released July 27th, 2007, Diwphalanx Records – crust - One of those split singles where one band covers a song by the other. Stupid Babies Go Mad’s cover of Boris’ “Ibitsu” (from “Akuma no Uta” of 2003) is a 7:52 song that starts out as a crust version of Ibitsu that suddenly and inexplicably becomes a somewhat Iron Maiden-ish punk song (or is it a cover of “Twilight Zone?”) at 1:55, before wandering back to Ibitsu-land eventually repeating the Iron Maiden clip. What’s going on, did they copy and paste the song to double its length (actually, I think that they did, at the 4:10 mark)? Either way, it’s an exhausting high-energy ride! Boris’ cover of Stupid Babies Go Mad’s “Double Vision” is a crunchy Boris smasher that sounds just like something from Pink. It roars, soars and blasts nearly nine minutes of pure sonic mayhem.

LHAT

LHAT

Long Hair and Tights, Boris and Doomriders split CD, released June 22nd, 2007, Daymare Recordings – live hardcore prog rock - Two LPs, each split between Boris and Boston punk band Doomriders: side A is five songs from Doomriders, side B is five from Boris; side C is five from Doomriders and the last side is two from Boris (naturally, these are both long songs, in this case nearly 10 minutes each).

Doomriders is a very chatty band, especially when compared to Boris (I’ve only ever heard them say anything between songs on two occasions: “Thank you… last song” on this release, and “Thanks, see you” from Smile -Live at Wolf Creek. Some of the stuff that Doomriders have to say is:

  • All right, messiah. We’re Doomriders from Boston, and we play rock ‘n’ rooooool.
  • This goes out to everybody who rides a fuckin’ skateboooooard!
  • This one’s on our split with Colliseum… one two three four!
  • This one’s called Worthless.
  • Vitalia, this one’s for you – it’s called ‘Ride or Diiiiiie!!
  • Yo, take it easy motherfuckers… this is a fuckin’ party, chill out, we’re fuckin’ Doomriders, let’s go.

The songs are crunchy and loud, and not all that fast, but with good vibes, always moving fast but with variety of riffs and guitar sounds. Lead singer Nate Newton, who tends to scream like Phil Anselmo, is probably the least interesting part of the equation, but the band is pretty good. “Mercy” even starts to sound a bit like Boris, with a touch of Black Sabbath thrown in (leaving out the lead singer, of course, since he sounds like Phil Anselmo…), while “Black Thunder” has a bit of an Iron Maiden dual guitar feel to it and a Thin Lizzy drive. “Worthless” sounds very much like old Boris, while “Sirens” returns to that blues Thin Lizzy kick. Could do much worse than to be on a Thin Lizzy kick. “The Chase” is some pretty cool DRI-inspired rock ‘n’ roll, while “Fuck This Shit” is all angry metallic hardness with dual lyric madness rapping in doberman bark precision that also melts into DRI lunacy. Final song, “Ride or Die” is very rock, jazzing off on bluesy early Maiden menopause.

With respect to the Boris songs – since there is no Merzbow or Masonna or Michio Kurihara guesting on this, the Boris songs are mostly faithful version of the album songs, but with a rock focus. “Black Out” is a great glomming doom song with a majestic, sweeping intro that just cascades all over the map. Gorgeous. “Pink” is freaky crazy. “Woman on the Screen” is pure whooping rock ‘n’ roll. “Nothing Special” snarls with a hidden intensity, and “Ibitsu” is pure natural adrenalin rush. Long song “Just Abandoned My-Self” is pure wild abandon that just goes on and on (the band’s stamina is olympian), while “Farewell” is a big fat old sun. Hooray!

BMWG

BMWG

Walrus and Groon, Boris with Merzbow, EP, released May 2007, Hydra Head Records – drone, doom and noise – Amazing. “I Am The Walrus” is probably one of my favorite Beatles songs, and here it is that one of my favorite Japanese bands is covering it. While the weak pronunciation of the song lyrics is a bit of a downer, the dronic tonation and the sinister rhythms of the band, as well as the stygian gurgle of those nutty Merzbow electronics, makes it all worthwhile. We also love the mock-Yes of the album cover. Wata also goes off on some mock Canned Heat guitar hystrionics, before launching the solo into Boris-land. Beauty. The song continues faithfully, until the weirdly patented sounds of Merzbow fill the end with soapy wonders. “Groon” is pure green doom, squalling along with bass-y sounds before drum kicks in with a mudded-out squalor, the song just groons on and on and on into sweet grooned-out bliss. This song gets a lot of attention from drummer Atsuo, who freaks out many times througout the song, zoning off and off and off as Merzbow gets his kicks with his evil synth sounds custom made for frying brains. Sweet groon.

  • 2006
BR

BR

Rainbow, Boris with Michio Kurihara, double album, December 23rd 2006, Pedal Records – rock - Boris with Kurahara Michio, the guitarist frorm the legendary band Ghost. This is their first of many, many colaborations (studio releases Rainbow, Cloud Chamber and the live release Smile -live at Wolf Creek-, as well as various songs on Heavy Rocks (2011), Attention Please, BXI, Smile and the Variations live DVD).

The songs on the album are neither stoner nor doom nor drone (at least not at first), and don’t really contain too many of the usual Boris flourishes. One reviewer described it as “more Radiohead or Portishead than Motorhead”, and this makes sense. The songs are sweet and spooky and not noisy at all, often very psychedelic or tender, albeit with the trademark Kurihara needly soloing. Opening track “Rafflesia” is a nice, airy, spacy boomer with a long, fantastic, wiry guitar wails. I don’t know how Kurihara does it. “Rainbow” is plodding and jazzy and just a little bit dull, but it has become famous as Wata’s major vocal debut and is ultimately a pretty cool song. The song also has great soloing in some of those weird distorted effects. It’s here that the album starts to sound kind of like a Sonic Youth album with Eric Clapton as guest. “Starship Narrator” is robotic, “My Rain” is a beautiful instrumental, Shine” a mournful dirge. “You Laughed Like A Watermark” laconic with a strange Neil Young guitar solo. “Fuzzy Reactor” has an appropriate name, as it is really quite fuzzy. “Sweet No. 1″ is a “barn burner” and a lot of fun as it is full of screaming solos. “Shine” is spooky and sad and acoustic (with sound effects), while “…And I Want” is more sweet pretty music, just like album closer “My Rain.” “You Laughed Like A Watermark” is sort of poppy and chilled out, with a snazzy beat, it almost sounds like an Okuda Tamio song. It has two solos, the latter one taking up the final 2.5 minutes of the seven-minute song. The first CD ends with a live version of Rainbow. An alternate pressing of this album has another song in the place of “…And I Want” that is called “No Sleep Till I Become Hollow”, which is not more than a bit of guitar plinking and plonking.

The second LP of the special box set contains two songs of about 20 minutes each, both drones with Portuguese titles. “Olhei para o vento varrendo as nuvens” builds up a long, slow drone that sounds like a whale singing in a swarm of killer bees. “Abraçando a névoa” is a very long toned-out drone that really goes nowhere fast, it nearly sounds electronic but it is probably produced by guitars.

Boris Sunn0))) Altar
Altar, Boris with Sunn 0))), double album, released October 31st 2006, Hallowe’en, Southern Lord Records – pop, doom and drone - This is not Boris with Sunn O))), this is Boris and Sunn 0))). Southern Lord (and labels that are friendly with Southern Lord) release Boris albums all the time and the bands have toured together, so a collaboration like this was inevitable.

I didn’t like the release at first listen, outside of a few cuts (normally I like most of the music that either band produces on their own), so it was a mystery to me why I couldn’t find a thread on Altar. Maybe my expectations were too high that this would be better than the sum of its amazing parts. So I didn’t listen to it as much as other Boris albums. But only now, after hearing the full triple LP version, do I realise that it’s an error in the label’s judgement to release just a single album – what the band has produced is a true triple album, they simply decided to leave off of the original CD their masterpiece, a 28-minute drone and stoner classic that really needs to be heard to believed. The song title needs to be seen to believed: it is simply called “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom”.

Now if that isn’t an awesome title, I don’t know what is. Say it again: “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom”.

The song starts with a huge smash, then goes into drone-out mode with wonderful nodding stoner bass that gloms and gloms. What heaven! This song is really something to fear and behold, especially when the zoomed-out guitar licks stab in at the middle part. Country licks drift in, and then the guitar, together with its evil stack, return for more screaming. The track picks up for a re-crescendo near the end, before dropping off entirely. The second disc starts off well with a blistering opener (which is also the first track of the regular release CD), “Etna,” which is gloomy Sabbath-like dirge stuff that picks up into a very Boris-like blues metal screecher. Find a very loud sound system and crank it! Until the guitars pick up at the end, nearly two thirds of the song is a sound effect buildup and Atsuo’s drum avalanche. Play it next Hallowe’en at top volume. The rest of the album is experimental and rather… odd. “N.L.T.” starts off with a big long double bass jab, is percussive weird and full of strange sound effects, while “the Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)” is a sweet song that seems to have gotten mislaid from the Twin Peaks soundtrack (the extended LP adds a “Black Sheep” and a “White Sheep” version, both instrumental bits on similar themes). It’s a nice song, and totally unexpected of either Boris or Sunn 0))), although I find it a wee bit irritating that guest vocalist Jesse Sykes pronounces “sinking” as “shinking“, as if to mock the typical Japanese pronunciation of the word (may not be the case, but it certainly would appear that way…). “Akuma no Kuma” is a bunch of drum and synth noise while Joe Preston (well known from the Melvins and Thrones) makes noise on a vocorder. Bizarre, irritating stuff (the song title is a pun – Boris have a song called “Akuma no uta”, which means “Satan’s Song,” while “Akuma no Kuma” means “Satan’s Bear”. No idea what’s going on here, besides some sort of awkward joke/pun/acid trip). “Fried Eagle Mind” is an early Wata vocal song. The song also has a very Twin Peaks feel to it as it starts off with spooky atmospherics and strange guitar pluckings, with a bit of singing, and then the noise builds up… “Blood Swamp” is very much like typical sound of Sunn 0))) (and Boris on some of their releases) which drones on for nearly 15 minutes, the second-longest track on the set.

BV

BV

Vein II (drone version), Boris full-length, released October 3rd 2006, Important Records – drone - There are two versions of Vein, and they look identical but for the grooves carved into them, due to differing number of songs – Vein II (drone version) has one track per side (side A – 16:57, side B – 16:43), while Vein I (crust version) has twelve tracks, six on each side. None of the songs on either album have titles.

The drone album sounds like a million other Boris drone projects – guitar buzzing away on top of some Merzbow-like noise on the first side, more of the same (but louder) on the second side. Actually, that’s not true – nearly halfway through Side B, the full band starts playing, meaning that this is a rare drone where Atsuo plays drums as frantically as he plays them on the band’s crustiest, rockiest releases.

BV

BV

Vein I (crust version), Boris full-length, released October 3rd 2006, Important Records – crust - I didn’t give it high marks the first time I listened to it, but I like Vein II, and in many ways find it Boris’ most interesting release, if not the band’s best. First track is just some feedback and static, with some low-density bass burbling. The second track is more of the same, the noise builds up, falls away, then the band really starts really playing a long, drawn out stoner droner, before we hear a line in Russian (apparently, it’s from a Tartovsky film), and then it launches into the third song. Songs three to 11 are performed at ultra-aggressive high tension crust and just squeal and roar along, with Atsuo apparently providing the screamed vocals. Nearly every song is very good as the band is laser tight – they could turn on a ten yen coin… or even a one yen coin!! Only one of these songs is over two minutes long (barely), and one is even under one minute. Great fun! There’s a thick layer of scum over everything, and a bit of magic at the end of track 6 when it relents slightly and becomes quite chilled out, there’s a “pleasant dreams” voice sample, and then the band launches into its most spastic tune ever (track 7). Track nine sounds like Slayer doing another Minor Threat song, and there’s still a constant layer of scum over everything. Track 10 sounds a bit like Coa, while track 11 is all about hideous noise and good, old fashioned rock ‘n’ crust. I can’t believe anyone can keep screaming and play guitar that fast. Wow! The song slows down, we get a quote from another Tartovsky film, and then we launch into the last song which, for 10 minutes, simply stones out with big, fat guitar chords. Great! Psychedliasm and stonercisms that fades out. No, wait, come back, we want more – we love it all!

TTWSO3

TTWSO3

The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked, Part 3, Boris full-length, released April 9th 2006, Conspiracy Records – ambient, doom, noise, psychedelic - The third (and, so far, last) submission in the “The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked” series, this release starts with “Leviathan”, which comes off as an ambient version of the ambient release “Flood” (focussing on only “Flood II” and “Flood III”, i.e. the good parts), with its warm basslines and funky guitar effects and lack of drum. It’s sweet and friendly. After nearly eight minutes, it suddenly gloms total DOOOOOOM, and busts out in the scary chords (not the happy major chords of “Flood III”, though, just spookier sounds all around – it also skips the brief snatch of vocals that can be heard in “Flood III”). But it is not majestic, merely loud. The wicked guitar solo feedback busts throughout the second half of the song, it just goes on and on and on… by the end of the song it is big and very bad and very grungy. FLOOD!!!

“Dimly Tale” starts off with low frequency moaning and gloaming, it twists and meanders. Great great great… real art! “No Ones Grieve, Part 1″ is about big fat chords, such as the ones that appear at the start of “No Ones Grieve, Part 2″ from The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked, Part 2 (yes, the song “part 1″ is on the album “part 3″ and the song “part 2″ is on the album “part 2″) and the version that’s on the US release of Smile. This just goes on for over seven minutes… it’s fantastic! “Sola Stone” is a very very very long song of chords that just ambles… and ambles… and ambles… until the drums come in in a big BIG way (The only “Solomon” song to include drums except for “No Ones Grieve, Part 2″ from “Solomon” 2)! Really fantastic gigantic drum waltz!!! The drums drop away, and the song picks up into the regular pile of Boris bass squirming maggots… until the big bad drums come back in and shred the set!!!

TTWSO2

TTWSO2

The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked, Part 2, Boris full-length, released April 9th 2006, Conspiracy Records – drone - With part 2 and part 3 of 2004′s The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked both released on April 9th, 2006, it seems like the album title was becoming a bit of a concept piece. The albums had very similar artwork (a move that they perfected with Vein I and Vein II in 2006, when both albums had identical artwork), distinguished mainly by the curtain print paper flap at the right, and the numbering on the LP (it was also released in colored versions, although the main color was orange).

The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked of 2004 (i.e. Part 1, although it wasn’t called that) is quite droney, as are many of the series’ songs, although Part 2 starts off with something called “No Ones Grieve, Part 2″, which was called “枯れ果てた先”, or “Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki” on all three versions of Smile (US, Japanese and live). This version starts off with a bit of an instrumental/mellow guitar sqruonk, just before it becomes a nut-bustin’ rock ‘n’ roller, probably the nuttiest and most spastic song that Boris has ever played. Real psycho-mania, the kind of music that olympic athletes would perform at the Olympics if they were musicians. The song just drills on and on and on. Boris have four versions of this song, they are all good, but this one is the oldest. It starts with 1.5 minutes of guitar buzzing, before kicking out the jams at 11 (three of the versions also start with a long amble, although the one on the Japanese version of Smile skips the intro and just jumps in with the full-on song). The song is big and large and terribly badass. It’s like Atari Teenage Riot performed with live instruments! But with harmony and inner beauty… Amazing stuff. With this song, Boris is fulfilling the promise laid out by the Swans thirty years ago (or at least they were in 2006). This version, unlike those on the Smile releases, seems to have no lyrics (or else they are drowned out by the noise – lyrics are supposed to kick in in the last three or four minutes). “Dual Effusion” is another drone based on two elements – an industrial chug, and long, bluesy guitar riffage. “Merciless”, one of those great song titles, is drone drone drone, as in a simple, solid tone that goes on and on… after some time the drone morphs into noise and pure, wicked feedback that builds and crescendoes like a big bullshit motherfucker. Wow – 14 minutes of sheer intensity! This is where the band ventures deep into Sunn 0))) territory (or maybe they had always been there, before Sunn 0))) even, ha ha…). The drone is chopped and changed and glomes on and on and on… the song roars until someone pulls the plug. Amazing. “An Another After Image” is very chilled out, it just sort of pushes on and on… no lyrics on any of these “Solomon” songs so far…

  • 2005
BMSBSC

BMSBSC

Sun Baked Snow Cave, Boris with Merzbow, released December 5th 2005 – full-length, Hydra Head Records, drone and noise – One 62-minute track called “The roar of a (gigantic) wheel as it turns uncontrollably, I vaguely recall it in a warm snow cave. A boom like a chorus of thousands of cicadas heard under the sun, such a story desires to be born.” Pretentious much? It starts off with some low-key white noise, and then some more low-key white noise that is a bit different, and then after a minute a simple guitar plucking wanders in. The guitar is all you hear for about 10 minutes, but then the Merz-noise picks up as the guitar bit carries on and on. The noise rises and swells to an unholy pitch, at which point you realise that it’s the Les Paul that is accompanying Merzbow. Two thirds of the way in, the hellacious fever-pitch screech subsides and gradually becomes a drone of sorts, and then things chill out, the acoustic guitar steps back in and plucks and ploops as everything melts into nothingness.

The album artwork is metallic and seems computer-drawn, it’s very trippy and surreal and is by Hydra Head Records founder (and Isis guitarist) Aaron Turner. The gatefold and back cover also contain very trippy dippy artwork.

BP

BP

Pink, Boris full-length, released November 18th 2005, Diwphalanx Records and Southern Lord Records – rock – Pink starts off, ironically, with “Farewell”, which has the strain of Nick Drake’s “Horn” before it explodes into sonic wonderland with big, big, GIGANTIC chords and drum blasts, a medium pace, and straining, soaring psychedelic vocals. One of their best songs. “Pink” is a barn-burning gut buster that just rocks on and on. “Woman on the Screen” is more of the same, while “Nothing Special” screams and has a bit of a caustic bit to it. “Blackout” is big, gorgeous doomy loudness, some real scary shit, although it does add some nice and cool and bluesy strains at the end – beautiful. “Electric” is great old rock ‘n’ roll that burns and burns. “Pseudo Bread” may have “woo woo”s, but it still rocks hard in a simple, straight forward way. Boris can play anything! “Afterburner” is a sedate, low key song that has burned out distorted busted bass contorting and slicing along with a strange vocal martini of three voices (I suppose all three members of the band). Weird in a very nice way. Oh, with hand claps and finger snaps too! “Six three times” (get it?) is like some sort of Kyuss outtake, with stoner bass-heavy high repetition skuzz, a Japanese sort of desert rock. “My Machine” is a hard-to-hear washed out number that sounds like it’s being performed underwater, very short and understated. “Just Abandoned My-Self” is a fast, thrashing noise monger that goes on for over ten minutes (hey, this is nothing – the one on “Rock Dream” is even more chaotic, and it goes on for over 13 minutes).

BHMM
Heavy Metal Me, Boris DVD, November 18th 2005, Diwphalanx Records – arty, psychedelic, drone – Six tracks, (seven if you consider the English and the Japanese versions of the short film “Heavy Metal Me” separately) from boris (lower case, meaning it’s their arty incarnation). Opening track is “a bao a qu – long version” which is nearly 10 minutes long, it is an edit of Side A and Side B of the “A Bao A Qu” single. It’s a lot nicer than the one on “Mabuta no Ura”, and it shows long shots of the Wata and Atsuo of Boris wandering around a small town that may be in Holland, may be the UK. “The Evil One Which Sobs” is next, that is 16 minutes of abstract video, shorter than the 21 minute version that is on Dronevil. I can’t even tell what it is is, but it might be dissolving fibres in a gigantic water tank… or something… Hard to tell what it really is, but it’s hypnotic. “Heavy Metal Me” is 11 minutes of blurry black and white footage of Wata hanging around, the sound is staticky,video grainy like filmed with an old Super 8 film camera (maybe it was). Nonsense phrases appear from time to time like “I think of ‘me’ and ‘my world’, Water reflect the sky, for the sake of the sky. The sky is there to be reflected on the water. How-too-entertain doesn’t entertain me.” Arty and surreal. The very odd thing that I discovered is that if you click on “Heavy Metal Me” again after you’ve seen it, you’ll see another version of it, and again, and again, and again. They somehow take the same scenes and reshuffle them, and you’ll get different things every time. I’ve only sat through three of them, but I did hear a snatch of guitar playing once. It’s boring to watch, but every scene is very beautiful in its own lost way. Most of the scenes star Wata.

“Feedbacker”, recorded November 1st 2003 at Shinjuku Liquid Room is a 27 minute live video (this one’s short – other versions that I have are 35 minutes long and 44 minutes long – it’s basically a full boris album), it starts off black for the first two minutes of feedback before the curtains part, and there are Boris in all their spooky glory (this version skips the long intro stuff that you hear on the bootleg -feedbacker- release, which is probably why it’s nearly ten minutes longer… this version has better sound, although it’s not as “intimate”, meaning the cameras aren’t as close to the members as it seems to have been filmed from tripod-launched cameras set up at the back of the crowded hall). The camera is quite jerky, but there are nice close-ups of Wata doing her thing, as well as those glorious Orange stacks, not to mention all of those great long shots of her soloing like David Gilmour. Amazing – where does she get her mojo? Stunning. Hypnotic. Atsuo comes in with singing at the halfway mark, the song starts to ramp up, and then builds into a feedback freakout with drummer Atsuo attacking the monster gong that hangs behind his drum kit. Takeshi holds the same note on his guitar for nearly five minutes, putting it through the effects wringer. Then the song fades out.

The final song is “Flood,” from the band’s second release (an audio track of the same concert is on Archive Three); it was recorded May 3rd 2001 at Koenji 20000v and represents (as all versions of Flood that the band plays) “Flood III” from the studio album, completely skipping the boredom of “Flood I”, the upbeat doodling of “Flood II” and the outro of “Flood IV”. However it starts off slower than the album version, wringing out the acoustic riff a bit and with the doleful, warbling vocals coming in after four minutes instead of one minute on the studio release (they also throw in the “big wave” sound effects from “Flood I” for good measure). There’s more off-tune singing at the 10-minute mark, at which point the band goes into full blazing stoner drone glory. The song is almost melodic, and a wee bit boring and melodic initially, but as the freakout continues the band truly shakes and rattles and rolls, and Atsuo lets loose on that big old gong several times, Takeshi thrashes his bass, and Wata wrings the life out of her Les Paul. The end of the set drowns out – drummer Atsuo leaves the stage four minutes before the end, and the bassist leaves two minutes before the end. Wata gives it a few more minutes of feedback, then some acoustic, and it’s all over. Much of the video is taken from backstage so you see the members’ backs, but you also see the 20-something Japanese slackers in the front row, all guys with their arms folded across their chests, blank-faced about the band they paid to see. The camera angles for this set are not very good, starting off at stage left, so that you see everybody in the band’s left ear or the backs of their hairy heads, but it does get behind Atsuo’s drum kit at one point, which is good. Ironically, the camera catches the band relatively well when they turn their backs to the audience, which is fairly often, but just as often the view is full of black amplifiers and stage gear. Takeshi looks kinds funny playing a regular Fender bass, and not a double-header of some sort, but hey – this was 2001, and they were an up-and-coming young stoner drone prog metal band!

BA1

BA1

Archive: Volume 1: Live 96-98, Boris full-length, released October 2005 – Eight songs, starting with the appropriately-titled “Huge” from Amplifier Worship, jumping off without the “subete kairu” Wata vocal loop and zooming right into the full massive song (they also do “Huge” on Archive: Volume Two “Drumless Songs” in a 17-minute version, nearly twice as long as the original). The songs, being from 1996-1998 and at the start of Boris’ career, are very rough and grungy, but this of course adds to their charm. After a long intro with “Huge”, the band goes into “Hush” from their first release (there are three others from the Boris/Barebones split), it’s a short, crusty, grungy bugger. Same for “Soul Search You Sleep” (also from Boris/Barebones), is long and stop-starty with lots and lots of screaming the eventually slows down to standard stoner rock. “Vacuuum” was Boris’ contribution to the From Koenji to Eternity compilation, and here it is minus the very long sample of a teenage girl blathering. The song is quick, tidy and hellacious. “Mosquito” (from Boris/Barebones) is a nice, doomy rocker, and probably the most sedate song on the release so far, which slips into drone at the end. Even better is “Mass Mercury” (from Boris/Tomsk), which has a nice prog metal feel to it, especially in the middle when it’s taken over by swaying basslines and goofy guitar noises that quickly develop into a fetching, full-on blues jam. What a great song!!! “Scar Box” is a big old rocker from the Boris/Barebones release. The set closes with “Hama”, an eight minute song from Amplifier Worship; like “Mass Mercury”, it contains the snatch of a real song (the first minute), then goes into a repetitive jam-out that sees a bass riff repeated, while guitar pyrotechnics fires on top of it, with the song returning in the last minute. Sensational.

BA2

BA2

Archive: Volume 2: Drumless Shows, Boris full-length, released October 2005 – Drumeless shows are drumless shows… I wonder what Atsuo got up to during these? “Huge” is much murkier than the original, and when the screams kick in at 10:30, it’s a bit anticlimatic without the drums but it sounds cool nonetheless, being totally smudged and echoed, filtered and layered and smothered in feedback. Hey – it’s drone! And then there’s “Mosquito”, that little three minute-long hardcore song from the Boris/Barebones split, now extended to 17 minutes… without drums. But it’s great – it just goes on endlessly and endlessly and endlessly and endlessly… until the last five minutes of the song, when it all slows down unbearably. Boris have really tried every trick in the book, and then have invented a few of their own. “Vomit Yourself” is a shortened, ground-out version of “Vomitself” from Amplifier Worship of 1996, a very long and glommed out drone rocker that just bristles with fuzzed-out energy. The end is pure, deconstructed feedback and noise. Love this sort of stuff!

BA3

BA3

Archive: Volume 3: Two Long Songs, Boris full-length, released October 2005 – Two long songs recorded May 3, 2001 at Koenji 20000V, what we’ve got here are shorter versions of Boris’ first and third full-length releases, Absolutego (1996) and Flood (2000), both being “one long song only” albums. “Absolultego” is a 15-minute distillation of the 65-minute track off of that album, and it jumps right into the main bass riff, skipping the four minutes of feedback prelude. The hum of feedback quickly drowns out the big bass riff, and cymbols come in soon after that. And the song continues in this vein for the next ten minutes, eventually petering out and just leaving the underlying bass riff from the beginning. The screams in the middle are even more hellacious than on the studio release (they appear at the 26-minute mark in the original, but at the seven minute mark in this version), and the song jams a bit before devolving again to the underlying bass riff and some more feedback. The last 17 minutes of the original are feedback soundout, while this version reduces that to about one minute only. Simple. Masterpiece.

“Flood” is essentially “Flood III” from that release (just a bit longer, though). It starts off with pretty arpeggios, then big BOOOOOMs (as heard in “Flood I”) come in. The vocals come in and are quite wobbly, then the song devolves into the big long long long section with the repeating bass line and the feedback firestorm that is the wonder of Flood (a live video of the same show is captured on the “Heavy Metal Me” DVD release as a “bonus track”). It’s a pity that they skip the upbeat “Flood II”, since there’s a lot of cool music there, but it would have made the set about ten minutes longer.

BMNU
Sound Track from Film “Mabuta no Ura”, Boris full-length, released June 29th 2005, Catune Records – acoustic folk – A strange album of blings and blongs, punctuated by occasional vocals, that is more like an experiment to follow a fun afternoon of jamming ideas, created on the basis of forming a film project. The album seems to be the intended soundtrack for a movie that never appeared, making it similar to Neil Young’s “After The Gold Rush” and Barry Adamson’s “Moss Side Story.” It’s hard to comment on any of the songs, as they are meandering and thoughtless, although each is pretty in its own way. “Theme” is high whistling guitars, while “The Middle of Stairs” is acoustic plinking and plonking. “The Slow Ripple of a Puddle” has a weird, folk acoustic Nick Drake drumless feel to it, but a drone nonetheless as it just continues on and on and on… “Your Name” is kinda sorta like the song you’d hear in practice – not fully formed, but a nice three-bit (guitar, bass drum) study in getting a song together. Bravo! “White Warmth” is echoey and full of strange accustics, but its also our first bit of vocal grooviness. “Melting Guitar” is beautiful hippy dippy trippy guitars that sound very retro in terms of its tone and production, love it. “Yesterday Morning” is pretty acoustic plucking that drone on and on, with a bit of high pitched sonics to go with it. “Amber Bazaar” is a bit of tribal drumming and what have you, and that’s the whole song. I certainly don’t remember ever hearing a Boris song like this one before (but, then again, that’s what you’re used to saying from time to time, especially with nearly every song on this album). “Smoke Sequence” is ugly, pokey acoustic and mildly psychedelic raga lo-fi that sounds like Beijing’s Amon Dunes, or some other bedroom recording artist that you’ve never heard of. “Space Behind Me Part 2″ is familiar terrain as it’s long, sustained guitar feedback, this time on top of pretty acoustic sounds. “The Picture of a Wind” is more psychedelic acoustic nuttiness, also with vocals, while “It Touches” is the closest that Boris has come so far to pop, with a boppy bassline and some cool beats to make you feel really good. Of course, by the end they process the hell out of the sounds so it crunches like walking over a slate floor covered with shattered glass, but it’s all good fun.

The standout track is “A Bao A Qu,” the third song on the release, a tune which appears up on many other Boris releases (the song debuted one year earlier, in 2004, with “The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked”. Boris have recorded six versions of this song, probably more than any other single song). It starts off like other songs on Mabuta no Uta, but quickly becomes a real Boris drone song, with a deep groove and blistering blues guitar, very nice.

The packaging of this one is nifty, and among the best that Boris has ever produced: it is pressed onto heavy cardboard stock and contains several reproductions of odd engravings. The brown cardboard CD envelopes contains a gatefold; this contains a CD in one of its pockets, the other has 10 cards, which have photo art on one side, and Japanese phrases on the other. The dominant visual imagery is that of an eye, and eyes are pictures as either opened or closed. Mysterious.

BABAQ

BABAQ

A Bao A Qu, Boris single, April 2005, Superfi Records – psychedelic drone – One version of the song on each side of the single. The first side is instrumental and is sweet and pretty guitar meandering, with some great distorted guitar soloing. The b-side starts off quiet, but quickly becomes a bass-drenched slammer with full vocals and one of Boris’ most unhinged, rockin’ songs, with the last part being pure drone noise. Of course, since it is a Boris song, at least 20% of the song itself must be devoted to droning and noise. Check out the “A Bao A Qu” video on the Heavy Metal Me DVD to hear an edit of Side A and Side B as a single nine-minute track. It’s nice.

The song title derives from one of the imaginary beings of Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings; apparently, the source of this imaginary being is a Malay legend.

BD

BD

Dronevil, Boris full-length, released February 28th, 2005 – drone, psychedelic – A double CD by Boris, although the first CD contains low-key droning music (“disc drone”, containing the songs “loose”, “giddiness throne” and “interference demon”) and the other contains full songs (“disc evil”, containing the songs “red”, “evil wave form” and “the evilone which sobs”). The two CDs are meant to be played simultaneously through two sound systems, although I suppose that hardly anyone ever does that. I used Guitarband to overlay the two tracks on top of each other and gave it a listen, but the effect is not earth-shattering. Each of the three songs, all instrumentals, is about 20 minutes long.

“Red” is over 21 minutes of chilled-out acoustic stuff, with some droney sounds in the background. After eight minutes, some high-pitched sounds waft in, fading after a minute or so. The song nearly fades out at one point in the middle, then at the 13 minute mark it comes back in with a slow cowboy movie soundtrack riff that is repeated for the rest of the song. “Evil Wave Form” opens with a droning distorted electric riff that explodes after four minutes into a big, fat ultra-drone, eventually sloshing into a super doom glom with all the trimmings, such as soaring solo guitar and big, heavy doom tracks from the drummer and the bass player. The song winds down to spare repetitive pluckings, that fade to quite. Then, 13 minutes into the song, it smashes back with big fat stoner rock sounds that drone on and on with mist and might, now really building into a super crunch-out. The song ends on an electro-buzz whine. “The evilone which sobs” starts off with a quiet, cool repetitive chord that slowly builds up into a newer, faster-paced riff, before exploding into top volume. The earlier themes are repeated at top volume like very evil Pink Floyd until just over 10 minutes into the song, upon which there are a further six minutes of drone-out. There is a minute or so of silence, and then there’s a weird little acoustic number that is barely anything at all. One of Boris’ best songs. There is a 13 minute version of this song on Rock Dream.

The CDs are in a hard cardboard gatefold that has a picture of Wata cradling her Les Paul, while insect prints float around like acid visions. Disc drone has insect motifs printed on it and comes together with three discs of transparent plastic with images of butterflies printed on them, each with a name of one of the discs tracks on it. Disc evil has a picture of Wata wearing jeans and a bra cradling her Les Paul printed on it and comes together with three discs of transparent plastic with images of each band member printed on them, each with a name of one of the discs tracks on it.

bootleg -feedbacker-, DVD, released January 21st, 2005, Diwphalanx – live drone psychedelic – Starts off with a white field where you see “fangsanalsatan” (the producers), then “oct 16th 2004, skylight, ny”, boris “feedbacker”. Recording of the band’s 10th year anniversary show. You hear crowd noise, see Wata spacing out and droning out in the opening notes of “feedbacker”, then Takeshi in his black t-shirt and double-head guitar/bass. Takeshi is playing the guitar below the end thing, then he plucks at the guitar a bit too. After three minutes, Wata hits a big fat power chord, Atsuo comes out, waves his gong mallet around, then smashes the gong, and the song builds up and up and up. The noise threnody polls and pulls, the audience goes into the audience and we see the fat balding American audience, then Atsuo plugs in, the song goes mellow, we scan the hardware, the song goes all Julee Cruise jazzy, weird guitar-generated UFO effects drift in, all sounding incredibly controlled. They guys know their random bursts of noise. Talk about control. Caught a glimpse of the back of that black Les Paul – very worn away where the thumb would rest. The song groans and gloms, and after 16 minutes the lyrics come in. At 19:30 it becomes big noise and real rock ‘n’ roll! At 21:00, there’s a bass solo rock-out interlude, beautiful, and the song goes into late period burn, with groovy vocals, and at the end Takeshi and Atsuo are singing together. The song ends with drumming from Atsuo and knob-twiddling at the amp heads from Wata and Takeshi, then some more gong smashing. Groovy! Weird Cloud Chamber stuff, a close-up of the drum skin wavering in the sonic waves, then the final drone-out of spooky gloom guitar, like the intro stuff.

Takeshi’s cabinet seems to include Sunn equipment. Wata looks somewhat pregnant.

  • 2004
BWM0409

BWM0409

04092001, Boris with Merzbow, full-length, released February 11th 2004, Inoxia Records – live rock, noise – This is Merzbow playing Boris album tracks live with Merzbow, similar in concept to Rock Dream but in this case they only do songs from one album (Heavy Rocks [2002]) instead of from seven albums (with an unreleased song on that one too, “Evil Stack”) as they would later do on Rock Dream. The first song they do is also the first song on Heavy Rocks, called “Heavy Friends”, but we first wade through four minutes of Merz-noise and crackling guitar before we get to it. The album was recorded live and the drums don’t sound too great, but it’s good fun nonetheless. The noise is highly integrated with the band’s music, and squeals away through a lengthened intro before the band starts singing… nearly eight minutes into the song (it starts about four minutes in with the original)! Yee ha!!! Next song up is “WaReRuRide”, the song that Merzbow collaborates with Boris on the album. Lots of loud Merznoise nearly drowning out the band here. Wow, though… wow!! The last two songs on the album are “Death Valley” and “Dyna-Soar”, and they are way longer than their album versions. “Death Valley” has a very long intro, but so much of it is guitar that you’d think that they could call it a new Boris song. It is in some ways very similar to “Encounter With The Inside Of The Wave Motion Of Great Waterfuzz”, the second of three songs on Megatone. The song as we know it from Heavy Rocks (2002) begins just over three minutes into the jam, but is quickly drowned out in Merz-noise. In fact, so is most of “Koei.” But by the end, things die out. They always do…

TTWSO

TTWSO

The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked, Boris full-length, August 2004, Kult of Nihilow records – drone psychedelic, noise – This disc contains three long songs, the first one “Scene 2″ is 10 minutes long and it is just droning guitar chords with no drums. The version of “A Bao A Qu” on this release is the oldest of the six (so far) that I’ve heard (seven, if you include the one on the Heavy Metal Me DVD); at eight minutes, it is also the longest (by comparison, the shortest version, the one on Rock Dream, is nearly half that). The song is formless, combining feedback guitar with light acoustic strumming, then heavy Merzbow-like noise. Later versions are more structured, and even have lyrics (except for Side A of the A Bao A Qu single). “The Dead Angle Which It Continues Showing” is a 20 minute-long drone that bristles with unholy energy. Very very cool stuff!

  • 2003
LASS

LASS

見殺し塔からずっと: Live at Shimokitazawa Shelter, Boris live DVD, released December 25th 2003, Diwphalanx Records – rock, drone, stoner live - The band’s first DVD release starts off in darkness with the song “Huge,” from their Amplifier Worship release. Slashing cords, ultra slow grind beat, screams and groans. Great video collages of the band in total rock-out mode, introducing them one by one. You’d think that they were great big rock gods from the over-produced video intro, as long as you weren’t too distracted by the completely non-commercial music that the band was putting out. That goes on for four minutes, then kicks in to footage from a show at the gritty Shimokitazawa Shelter, a sweaty basement live house in Tokyo that I once went to in 2005 to see the King Brothers play. The place doesn’t look as packed as it was the day that I was there, but it’s still pretty full. Boris rock out under the blue light, playing songs from their Amplifier Worship and Akuma No Uta albums, as well as some from Heavy Rocks. Besides the slow, plodding, monolithic 10-minute opening number, they’re mostly fast, short rockers, with nine of them taking up the remaining 50 minutes of the album. The only song from Amplifier Worship is “Huge.” The songs from Akuma no Uta are “Ibitsu,” “Furi,” “Ano Onna no Onryou,” “Naki Kyoku,” and “Akuma no Uta.” Basically the whole album minus the nine-minute intro. The songs from Heavy Rocks are “Death Valley,” “Korosu,” “ワレルライデ” and “1970.” The video starts off very fast-cutting, like a frantic MTV clip, but then learns to relax a wee bit (but not too much). Right at the middle, at song six (“Naki Kyoku,” which is a slow number) the video breaks into a bit of a “trippy sequence,” where the band hang out and pose a bit in a non-sequitar from the live show. They walk down, or stand still in, the backstage hallway areas, doing some camera trickery. Nice, but I’d rather have seen the live stuff, since that is probably the only bit where Takeshi uses the guitar part of his Gibson guitar/bass double-neck (similar to the one Jimmy Page plays “Stairway to Heaven” on, except that Page’s is a 6-string/12-string guitar double-neck). The second part of the show proceeds like the first part of the show, except with fewer vocal parts from drummer Atsuo. There are plenty of shots of the gorgeous Wata soloing, and plenty of Takeshi grimacing as he stings/shouts indecipherably. Great and good fun. The concert was recorded at Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa Shelter on the “Black Summer Tour” on the 12 of July, 2003 with five cameramen. The show is actually similar to a set I saw Boris do at Bears live house in Osaka on January 18th, 2003. The one-hour live show is followed by four videos. “Korosu” consists of orange low-def graphics invading the band’s quick-cut white-space practice session. “1970″ (not the Stooges song) is a collage of band shows, which is most interesting for the viewer to see what each member wears throughout the history of the band (and you do get to see Wata wearing… ugh… t-shirts). “Free” is the best video of them all, it is mostly ink drawings and doodles, some of them animated, but all of them interesting. “Ibitsu” is the least interesting, albeit the most technically accomplished. It is a bunch of mechanical parts moving and transmogrifying, almost like those weird bits from the Matrix or Transformers where things are changing from one thing to another but no one knows what the hell’s going on.

BF

BF

Boris At Last -Feedbacker-, Boris full-length, December 25th 2003, Diwphalanx Records – drone – With its lower case lettering, this is clearly a “mellow” Boris album, and it’s one long five part tune, full of feedback and weird sounds. The first part is guitar cords, part two is slow drumming a la Angelo Badalamenti atmospherics. It launches and soars like progressive metal and spooky blues, and singing finally at the end of part 2, about 20 minutes into the song, when it finally gets really massively heavy. Things get really hairy in part 3, where the band is tight as hell. Part 4 is where it gets really wonky and crazy – and where my ears start to hurt. Part 5 just sort of tones out. The band includes a shorter version of the song with Merzbow on Rock Dream. They’ve performed the album in its entirety twice, at the Flaming Lips-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties event in New York on September 13th 2009, and again at the Pavement-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties of May 14th-16th at Minehead in the UK.

In its structure it is rather similar to other Boris songs that start with a dronic first movement, followed by a real song, before droning out at the end (not Absolutego or Cloud Chamber, which are solid drone, but maybe Flood or “Fukurou” from the split with Choukoku no Niwa.

The CD booklet is printed on translucent paper and has a picture of Wata lying with her head in a pool of blood. Another shot from the same photo shoot, but taken at a different angle, is printed on the CD itself.

ANU

ANU

Akuma No Uta, Boris full-length, released June 6th, 2003, Diwphalanx Records and Southern Lord Records – rock, psychedelic – A heavy, droney album, starts off with big fat bass chords going nuts in slow motion through a long long intro that just builds and builds with sound layers. “Ibisu” is a heavy, fast rocker that is a live favorite – they’ve released at least three live versions of it (also, check out Stupid Babies Go Mad’s crazy cover of it). “Furi” is rockin’, but less fun (if only slightly less). “Naki Kyoku” is long and slow, with an acoustic intro that drones on and on for about 2.5 minutes before the electric guitar and bass are unleashed, at first slowly, and then with increasing bluesy momentum. Some great stretch-outs here as the band really swings (and when does Boris ever do that?). The band winds it down… and then brings it right back up. Takeshi’s long, wailing lyrics are a thing of beauty. Masterful. “Ano Onna No Onryou” is a pretty regular song, while the title track album closer is a monster of noise, starting out with gong smashes, then big buzzing riffs, a vicious snarling riff pattern in full rock mode, and then the song with its whoopin’ and hollerin’. An instrumental rock number with all the majesty of the best of Black Sabbath. This one’s a keeper!

The Boris “Akuma no Uta” cover is a ripoff/tribute to Nick Drake’s “Bryter Layer” cover – I don’t know what the connection is, except that Takeshi does look a bit like Nick (and the band does make a melody from “Horn” part of “Farewell”, the opening song on Pink). Check out how much cooler Takeshi’s guitar is, his shoes as well…
Nick Drake Bryter Layer

BDC

BDC

Boris/The Dudley Corproration, split EP, released April 2003, Scientific Laboratories records – rock – Another one of those really weird marriages (see also 9dw). Boris kicks it off with a short, raw version of “Ibitsu” that sounds a lot like the one that is on Akuma No Uta. The Dudley Corporation’s “Little Man” is a very short, silly little pop song with nice voices, jangly guitars and twee lyrics. A quiet spell picks up at the end – how Boris-like! “3rd Song” is sort of a demented Mick Harvey song, with its acoustic guitar, a country-sounding riff and droning hypnotic vocals. I should check out what it is that they’re singing about!

  • 2002
BM

BM

Megatone, Boris with Merzbow, full-length, drone and noise, released April 26th, 2002, Inoxia Records – drone noise - Three very long songs: “It Continues Waiting For A Headronefish” (23:27), “Encounter With The Inside Of The Wave Motion Of Great Waterfuzz” (20:04) and “…And Texas Spaceship” (17:56). The first song starts off with low-key bristly noises and long, looming bass drone. Time passes slowly. The song is long, flat, continuous. And I can’t get enough of it. How will the next song be different? How will it be better? It starts off with cool, long guitar wail that is a bit bluesy and psychedelic. Very low sounds burble in the background. At a start, the noise squeals in and just keeps going. The Merz-noise twists and groans and builds up and up, constantly changing. This is a noise song, not a drone tune. The last song starts with guitar drone buzzing like a light aircraft in the sky, noise building up behind it changing and mutating, sometimes a deep squeal, sometimes high tension wires, sometimes stressed iron girders, sometimes a volcano, sometimes horror hoarfrost, and other times just plain static. Bitchin’! No drums and maybe no bass even, this seems to be all Merzbow and Wata.

BHR

BHR

Heavy Rocks, Boris full-length, released April 8th 2002, Quattro/UK Discs – rock – Heavy Rocks is the main early rock album from Boris, with heavy use of musical collaborators, including Lori from Acid King (a bit of muttering in the opening track), Masonna, Merzbow, Eddie Legend of Mad 3, and Komi of the Abnormals. Opens with the strong “Heavy Friends,” on which Lori mutters. Groaning guitars and bleached bass with stinging cymbols, all great stuff. “Korosu” is a heavy rocker like we got used to on Pink, while “Dyon-Soar” is a collaboration with Yamasaki “Masonna/Christine 23 Onna/Space Machine/Acid Eater” Maso doing an analog noise freakout that is a bit distracting. It is also pretty standard rock ‘n’ roll, believe it or not. “Wareruraide” is YET another rocker. “Soft Edge” is an instrumental that is more about subtle noise and feedback. “Rattlesnake” is a howling instrumental rocker (with some hoots and hollers) that kicks off with a stunning intro, perhaps the best on the release. “Death Valley” is wild rock and bombastic riffs, grand vocals and some noise. “Kori” is tough and hard, deadly and brief. “The Bell Tower Of A Sign” is perhaps the album’s best song and Komi, of The Abnormals, is stellar in its sledgehammer assaut. He gives the song a truly ’70s guitar rock feel with his spooky background vocals, the song crunches on and on and has some great instrumental parts all throughout, especially the long bass line that goes on for most of the second half of the song. Love it, total win. Closing track “1970″ is not the Stooges song, but it’s pretty okay anyway.

  • 2000
BF

BF

Flood, Boris full-length, released December 15th 2000, MIDI Creative records – drone, psychedelic – One of the band’s more troublesome/boring concept projects. Flood is a 70-minute ambient project that contains four tracks, simply titled Flood I-IV, and each of them very long (14:42, 13:35, 20:38 and 21:35 respectively). “Flood I” is a boring piece of work, with its “guitar finger exercise” instructional feel. The very long, very boring interlude is interrupted by someone wanting to introduce drum lessons… from a vague distance. The sound carries on; this changes rather abruptly in the end of the first set with the appearance of a big, fat drum noise that is probably meant to emulate giant waves (how prog rock…), and then the song meanders on and on and one…

“Flood II” to “Flood III” now seem to be the core element of the release, as they are the parts of Flood that are reproduced from time to time – on albums like The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked, Part 3 (where it is called “Leviathan”) and in the Heavy Metal Me DVD. And so… after the boredom of “Flood I”, “Flood II” embarks on a long, meandering, sunny, jazzy, psychedelic trip through the park, that has plenty of swaying e-bow work in it, lusciously remembering a younger, more innocent time when the world was young and people were really very chilled out… of course, near the end of the song it gets bluesy and high pitch-y, screaming on and on. With “Flood III”, this comes to a sudden halt, and a lovely arpeggio takes over. Now we hear our first bit of vocals, and then more hippy-dippy stuff, and then nearly seven minutes into the song, the band cranks it up, buzzing away with big, happy major chords. It still doesn’t sound very Boris, being loud but cheerful. This eventually becomes a riff in a minor chord that drones on beautifully with bristly nose fuzz for the last five minutes of the song.

“Flood IV” repeats the main theme of “Flood III”, but begins a long, ambient fade-out that eventually becomes percussion that seems to imitate the motion of long, ocean waves. Yawnnn…

  • 1999
BC

BC

Boris/Choukoku No Niwa, split EP, released 1999, Inoxia Records – drone, experimental noise rock – Boris’ contribution to this split, “Kanau Part 1″ and “Kanau Part 2″ follows the time-held Boris tradition of launching an epic tune with a very long drone intro, before proceeding to some sort of a song with vocals. “Kanau Part 1″ is a long, very boring drone, with barely anything at all happening except a bass drone for nearly 15 minutes (and in a monotone for nearly eight minutes). “Kanau Part 2″ is more like a real song, blending with the mono-drone of the first part, but picking up quickly with some bristling guitar sound, big smashes, drums, and a real beat for a change. It quickly becomes a real rocker, with big bad vocals and lots of musical progression. The middle of the song is filled out with a long, weird drum bridge that roams and roams, kind of like what “Vomitself” on Amplifier Worship. The song eventually winds down and becomes nothing.

On the other side of the split is the 24-minute “Fukurou”, by Choukoku No Niwa, a band I know nothing about and whose only claim to fame may be that they were on this split with Boris, although they do have their own My Space page, which contains two shorter versions of “Fukurou”. The song starts out with flute sounds, then gets into tribal drums, bouncing basslines, groovy guitar, and wheaty vocals. The tune is very psychedelic, it also gets very world music-y in parts, with weird Indian festival horn sounds, and then more tribal bass and drum lines.

  • 1998
BHKBIF

BHKBIF

Black: Implication Flooding, Boris with Haino Keiji, released October 1st 1998, Inoxia Records – noise, experimental, live - This was recorded live at Koenji 20000V on August 31, 1997, the band jamming with the master (he does a fair bit of this – around the same time Haino Keiji also did a recording with Coa, and he has worked on album projects with KK Null, Merzbow, and many others). Haino’s concerts tend to go on for hours and hours, and this CD only contains 72 minutes of excerpts from a much longer whole (that, I suppose, must exist somewhere in its complete form… and with better sound quality, I’d expect). All of the titles are very long. First track “A Rise, A Moment Before Something Unexpected Is On The Verge Of Starting” has a long drone, with meditative moaning interspersed with the occasional spurt of insane bellowing. Drums come in, the droning swells, as does the insane bellowing. The song ambles along, eventually petering out with a bit of drum. At over 15 minutes before it fades out (all songs either fade out or are cut of abruptly), it is the longest song on the release. “Not Knowing If It Will Be Agony Or Comfort For Us” starts off with cool drum blasts, wicked shouting, and a real Boris jam. “Wonder What Colour Would Be Suitable For The Dwelling” is mainly about caterwauling and tooth gnashing, although there’s also a fair bit of manic drum madness and guitar squeal with wild bass zooms. “The Decision Of A Dream Which Will Never Be Completely Red” slows things down a bit, while keeping the insanity fresh, and “It Should Be Watched, Not To Fail To Notice These Flashes Of An Accusation From Inside” indulges in wild, wild drums and screams. and strange long wild musical meanderings. The song is chopped quite suddently. “Offer It All Up, Our Madness That Will Be Crushed On This Land That Has Come To Be Called Chaos Unzipped” starts up with amplifier buzz, then goes into some sort of plaintive camel bellow/whale song that is probably created by a guitar. Or maybe it’s a snake charmer’s pungi. “From The Distance, With Their Own Gentle Eyes Always Fixed On Us, They Are Affectionately Gazing At The Black_Implication Flooding” is somewhat musical, in a dissonant way, and the song hoots and hollers, growing slowly into a great, clattering crescendo of noise power! “Don’t Be Cheated By The Oozing Silt From Both Of The Accuser And The Accused Which Is Always There, Saying ‘Something Has To Be Done’” is all about smashing drums, the slow buildup of guitar, and then a big rock bash-in. “The Person Who, What Is S/He Like, The One Who Has Been Determined And Prepared” is probably the best fun on the release, starting with weird Godzilla sounds, the song starts off in a scary, echoing industrial world, with wombat attacks erupting constantly, roiling and rolling, a tiger worm struggling to blast itself away from its existence. But nothing ever really happens after that.

Unfortunately, the release would have been better if the mix weren’t quite so awful – the recording sounds like crap.

BAW

BAW

Amplifier Worship, Boris full-length, Mangrove records and Southern Lord Records – drone, doom and death – One of Boris’ early full-lengths, it’s somehow also the band’s most experimental, with some really strange sounds. “Huge” starts of with a looped vocal of Wata saying “subete ni kairu” (“everything goes home”, but in odd Japanese), sounds, smashes, and big drone chords. It builds up the way Absolutego did, but then bursts out into violent death metal vocals after five minutes of punishment. It’s sludgy ultra-doom. “Ganbou-ki” has guitar drone and cool bass bumping that’s really badass. The chomping bass line keeps going on and on as the guitar and drum build a song around it (like Absolutego), and they try all sorts of really cool stuff that’s very hard to describe. After five minutes, the song flares into a weird rolling bass bomb-out that just drones on and on and on. The song tries to peter out, but at the 12:30 mark it decides to come back and surprise us with more guitar droning along the same bass line as the latter half of the tune. Go!

“Hama” is a barnstorming rocker that really digs in with big fat riffs, chorus singing, and some wild insanity. But they only do this for the two verses to the 1:40 mark, then drone it out with a repetitive drum pattern and some sonic guitar buildup, before busting loose again at 6:42. It’s not a song, it’s an adventure!

The last two songs on the album are VERY LONG! “Kuruimizu is 14:27 and “Vomitself” is 16:57. “Kuruimizu” starts off like a wicked hardcore song, going nuts with screaming for nearly three minutes, before slowing down with dull chord changes, and then yer average drone-out, that just goes on and on and on and on and on… Great stuff. The final ten minutes are a long near-silent fade-out that builds up to a sweet, beautiful fade out.

But wait, there’s more! “Vomitself” builds up a big heavy bass riff and then lets it carry on for two thirds of this very long song, before the long, long, and very slow fade-out. Wicked!

This is the CD I bought at the first Boris show I ever went to.

  • 1997
BT split

BT split

Boris/Tomsk, split 7″, released 1997, Bovine records – stoner – This split has only one song, the opener “Mass Mercury”, and it’s a long one at 5:39… at least it’s long compared to the six Tomsk songs that followed, which don’t last that long combined! Boris’ “Mass Mercury” sounds very stoner, with its gigantic guitar intro that flails and flails and flails, before Takeshi comes in with his horrible snarling. A long instrumental segment with cool rolling bass and garbled guitar keep things really very cool.

Tomsk does scary, yucky screaming crust that crunches and groans. “Dumpsite” is guitars and screaming, as is “Rape-Acrive-Hate”, “Bloodlink” (which has some Slipknot howling) and the hook-y “Me”, which follows Boris tradition by having a slow-down section in the middle. “Coccyx” starts off with a scary horror movie sample (“I’m not going to hurt you… I’m just going to bash your brains in”) before the guitars and screaming begins. One of the songs is only 22 seconds long.

  • 1996

Boris Absolutego
Boris – Absolutego, released 1996, Fangs Anal Satan records and Southern Lord Records – drone - One very long 65-minute drone without too much change. The Boredoms have made music like this, and half of Aube’s pieces are similar as well. Long, slow, scary groaning in there as well – the song combines everything the band will later do on releases like “Akuma no uta” and puts it into one long composition.

The doom drone starts off with a big loud bomb and then twists and turns its way through long hissing drone until four minutes in the first big wandering bass bombs hit, and this continues throughout the whole 65 minutes, with sound gradually layered on top of it, first buzzsaw guitar wail, and then about 12 minutes in a bit of percussion and some wailing. Then, 25 minutes in, it starts to get really intense, with heavier drumming and big monster smashing with death metal groans. Minute after minute the song walks around, eventually stilling back to the pattern of the first 26 minutes, After 49 minutes, even the bass gives away, leaving another 17 minutes of guitar sound-out. Sheer sonic bliss.

Boris put a song called “Absolutego” on their Archive: Volume Three “2 Long Songs release of 2005, although that song is not very long – it is only a bit longer than 15 minutes. The shorter version is different in that it jumps straight to the chase with the meandering bassline, then the drums come in after only two minutes, and the song really spazzes out. Rat-tat-tat drums come in at the 4:44 mark, and it gets sonic-y, then becomes a real chunky song with unholy screaming lyrics at 7:24.

“Dronevil 2″ (the band released an album called Dronevil in 2006) is nearly eight minutes of fuzzed-out droning.

The album I got is from Southern Lord, it has ugly cover artwork but comes in a funky orange-coloured jewel case, which is fine indeed.

BBB1

BBB1

BBB2

BBB2

Barebones/Boris, split full-length, released 1996, Piranha Records and Fangs Anal Satan – hardcore punk - The first Boris release, this one has five songs by Barebones (of which nothing is known other than they appeared on a split EP with Boris), and four songs by Boris. Barebones plays big hard fast hardcore metal that thunders and rolls with crunchy near-Helmet riffs and a snarling Helmet-like vocal. All the songs are screaming and angry and sound great, especially “Freak Out”, which has a near-Black Flag spookiness to it, as well as some funky crunchy jazz-isms. Boris’ first song “Still Unknown (live)” shows the band lifting off with the guitars and screaming hardcore that is pretty loose. “Soul Search You Sleep” begins with a wall of feedback, then scary bass sounds, and Takeshi’s unholy screams – the song is pretty long and has some doom elements to it. “In Hush” is a zippy little piece of hardcore that devolves into weird vocals and that ever-persistent wall of drums, while “Scar Box (live)” is sort of familiar, almost as if the band was playing a sped-up version of one of the drones from a later album. The song crunches and smashes its way along into a strange vocal passage, eventually droning totally droning out. “Mosquito (live)” is a strange bit of weirdness that already sounds like our familiar Boris, the tune slows down slightly as it plays through, groaning with sinister energy.

FKTE

FKTE

From Koenji to Eternity (Compilation), released 1997 – This compilation includes Korean Buddhist God, Gaji, Konk+Null (Zeni Geva) (two songs), OAC (two songs), Mustard Masturbation (two songs), Kirihito, and Boris. Boris’ song is called “Vacuuum” (yes, with three “u”s), and it’s great fun – sound effects, a sample of some random girl blathering for two thirds of the song, ultimately repeating the phrase “they can’t feel me” over and over again, and then a minute of bass-heavy Boris hardcore insanity. Great.

The CD has eleven tracks by seven bands is the first CD release by Inoxia Records, Boris’ label. Korean Buddhist God plays scratchy nutty doom-laden grindcore with screaming and other groovy nuttiness.Lots of white noise.Gaji’s track starts off with bass and drums with the vocals sounding like they are coming from another room, then gets funky.Two songs by KONK and KK Null, “Godzilla” is a bit of noise hysteria with scary vocals and hard marching beats, while the second track is mellower and more like a squeaky late-night call to the shrine that throws in some spooky guitar noise over the repetitive theme.OAC (what does it stand for? Surely not Ontario Academic Credit!) does three tracks of Minor-Threat-meets-Minutemen fast hardcore.Mustard Masturbation plays funky bassy tunes with slacker vocals.Kind of Dinosaur Jr.-ish.Kirihito does a whirly spooky drum-smash vocal-modulated gloomy industrial-ish dark track.

List of covers

One of Boris’ habits is to dig up obscure songs to cover. PYG, Jane, Earth and Fire, the list goes on. Here is a list of some of the songs that they cover (with accompanying videos of the original and the cover for comparison, if available):

  • Jane, “Session”, covered by Boris and Merzbow in 2011
  • The Cult, “Rain”, covered by Boris in 2010
  • Earth and Fire, “Seasons”, covered by Boris in 2009


  • The Beatles, “I am the Walrus”, covered by Boris and Merzbow in 2007


  • Pyg, “花 – 太陽 – 雨”,covered by Boris in 2007


  • Stupid Babies Go Mad, “Double Vision”, covered by Boris in 2007

No video or audio available for either version of song.

Member bios


Boris have also introduced themselves to the world, starting with Wata. Hello Wata…





About My big bad Boris page

I made this page as a tribute to Boris after I realised that there is a dearth of information in English about the band’s discography out there and that, since I own probably all of their recorded material, I should do something about sharing this information.

If you wish to write to me with your comments and questions, please drop me a line at peter at hoflich dot com.

You may also wish to check out:

My big bad Spitz page
My big bad Ultra Fuckers page

My big bad Spitz page

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

It’s honestly quite hard for me to talk about Spitz (スピッツ in Japanese) without gushing. Their songs are probably the catchiest, most well-written folk/pop/rock songs around, right up there with Taiwan’s Wu Bai, Japan’s Imawano Kiyoshiro, the Mekons and maybe also Weezer (name anyone else who knows how to craft a song – Brian Wilson, John Lennon…). Nearly every Spitz song, word and music, is composed by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Kusano Masamune, who is not only a gifted songwriter but has one of the best voices in J-pop – a distinctive sandy wheeze in a relatively high vocal range that wrings out the emotions and sounds great in rockin’ numbers, but even better in ballads. Happily, I’m not the only one outside of Japan who thinks so, but there are not many of us – you tend to find who has been turned on to Spitz only by reading the comments at Amazon.com for their releases; otherwise, the chances of running in to a non-Japanese who’s even heard of this marvellous band that sells out stadiums in Japan every time they tour there may be about a million to one.

The band has 15 full-length major label releases now (and two independent releases), with two EPs, and at my home in Singapore I have all of the major label releases. I will be reviewing them here.

Check out this site for an encyclopedic run-down of song titles from all of the albums, DVDs, singles and indie material from 1988-1990. Also see their fan club, Spitsbergen.

On the band’s 15 releases and 185 songs, I give 83 of them top marks (five stars) in my iTunes ranking.

ST

ST

とげまる - Togemaru, released October 27th 2010, Universal Music Japan – Spitz’s 13th album only has a few standout tracks and many of them sound like clones of previously releases songs, but it’s very pleasant nonetheless. Opening track “Beginner” is regular lumbering rock ‘n’ roll, while “Tankentai” is a bit jauntier, with groovy background vocals. “Shirokuma” (Polar bear) is a cute little number with near-perfect melodies in the verses and chorus, and flawless production, as must be expected from a tight, disciplined band that’s never sounded sloppy. “Koisuru Bonjin” hops and bops and has a nice rocky edge, while “Tsugumi” is a fun mid-paced rocker. “Shingetsu” is probably one of the best songs on the album, it is slow-ish and is dominated by a big catchy piano and semi-drone guitar riff that would make you think of Coldplay – except that Spitz is nowhere near as boring as Coldplay. The verses are wan and spooky, haunting and icy, but with great feeling, and they swell up to that catchy riff. “Hana no Shashin” is some good old country pop with a beautiful melody and chorus and good, drivin’ rhythm. “Maboroshi no Doragon” is a somewhat cheezy rocker, but it’s nice enough. Much MUCH better is “TRABANT”, a superb rocker that is right up there with the best that Spitz has ever done. This song will put you in a trance of joy with its obvious best-song-ever-written driving beat that out-punks punk. I love this song. By the way, for those who don’t know what a “trabant” is, this is East Germany’s two-cylinder answer to the Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. “Kikasete yo” is a pretty acoustic song that is utterly dominated by the awe-inspiring smokiness of the lead singer’s voice. Find me a prettier song that is sung as well as this one that soars into such a gorgeous chorus! “Enishi” is a bit louder than the rest of the songs on the album, but it’s still just another happy, lite Spitz rocker. “Wakaba” is a sort of frisky rocker that is rather nice, it is a beautiful slow song with a thrilling melody that somehow picks up a big drum beat (I think it would have sounded nicer as a simple song) but is really very very fun and gorgeous. The sleeper hit of the album. “Dondodon” is a bit of a rocker with distorted vocals, but it is ultimately pretty conventionals. “Kimi ha taiyou” is a very nice rock ‘n’ roll number.

SS

SS

さざなみCD - Sazanami CD, released October 10th 2007, Universal Music Japan – Spitz’s 12th album starts off with an acoustic song that quickly shifts gears to become a rocker – this seems to be a favourite tactic of principal songwriter Kusano. The CD needed a few listenings until I got used to it, rather than any songs leaping out at me – most Spitz CDs will have standout tracks from the very first listening – and had a bit of a “generic Spitz” feel to it, almost as if Spitz has become as same-samey as the Ramones or AC/DC. This album seems to be a bit “rockier” than recent releases, without any real ballads, although opening track “watashi no gita” has some acoustic guitar. Every single song has great guitar sounds, and Kusano’s fantastic whiskey-smoked vocals. Spitz is the best guitar pop around, outclassing boring bands like Coldplay every step of the way. The guitarist has a Gibson Les Paul.

SS

SS

スーベニア - Souvenir, released January 12th 2005, Universal Music Japan – Spitz’s 11th release starts off strong with a rockin’ number “Natsu no uta” that’s busy with electric sounds, while “Arihureta jinsei” is a tender, fast-moving song that opens with ukelele, gets into a swing, adds strings, and builds up into a killer chorus. “Ama’tare Creature” is a monolithic, atonal rocker that needs to find a groove. “優しくなりたいな” is a tender ballad that is really just a bit TOO tender (sorry Kusano-san), and the “echoey room piano” accompaniment is a bit sappy. Never mind, though, it’s followed closely by the Okinawa rock of “ナンプラー日和”, one of the album’s standout tracks. “正夢” is a decent rocker and very catchy, “ほのほ” moves and rocks with great momentum, while “ワタリ” is even faster and pounding. “恋のはじまり” slows things down just a wee bit, ”Jidosha” is a pleasant reggae-inspired number, and “Tatum O’Neill” is a jaunty rocker – I’m just not quite sure what it has to do with Tatum O’Neill. “Kae ni Ikuyo” is a great ballad, despite the welling strings.

SIIG

SIIG

色色衣 - Iroiro Goromo, released March 21st 2004, Universal Music Japan – This 2004 release is another odds ‘n’ sods collection (the previous one, 花鳥風月 - Ka’chouhuugetsu, came out in 1999) is mainly B-sides from singles released since that compilation, i.e. between 1999 and 2004, with the three songs found on the “99ep” mini-album (one taken directly from it, and two re-mixed), along with a single previously unreleased track, which closes the album. The opening track is a typically well-written masterful guitar pop song, while “High Fi, Lo Fi” remixed from the 99ep for a cleaner sound is a jaunty rock number; ditto for the next song, while “Sakana”, taken directly from 99ep is sweet, sombre, ballady. “Masorite” starts off jazzy, but then becomes a typically jaunty rocker. Somewhat inexplicable, another version of the song “Memories” – which isn’t a great song to begin with, is here, since it was the B-Side of… “Memories.” “Seishun Ikinokori Game”, the third track from 99ep is a so-so rocker that is slightly longer – it differs from the original by repeating another verse at the end before the fade-out. “SUGINAMI MELODY” is a tuneful ballad that is a bit heavy on the strings, while “Songoku” is a reggae-influenced crunchy number that starts off mellow before picking up steam. “Omiya Sunset” is a pleasant acoustic ballad, while the previously unreleased track “Boku wa Jet” is a groovy, infectious rocker with a punk-like chorus; the song was recorded in 1989, so it’s ancient history for Spitz.

SMR

SMR

三日月ロック - Mikazuki Rock, released September 11th 2002, Universal Music Japan – Mikazuki Rock was released in 2002 with 13 songs, the band’s first for new label Universal Music Japan. The opening song on this album, “Yoru no kagetekuru”, basically shows how Spitz is roughly-speaking the Coldplay of Japan, but much… much… much… better. It’s probably their best album-opener. “Mizu iro no matchi” is a charming pop song that my wife has asked me to learn how to play, it’s good. “Mekans no thema” is a good, rockin’ song with nice riffs and a driving pace. “Babaroa” is another Coldplay-like slow-burner with cool basslines, haunting vocal sounds, and a bit of an electronic feel to it. “Low Tech Romantica” is a ho-hum so-so rocker, but it’s followed by another burner, “Hanemono,” which starts off sedately before building up into one of Spitz’s most infectious rockers – this is another fun song to play on the guitar. That’s followed by the sweet “Umi wo Mi ni iko”, which is all about going to the beach, also one of their better songs. “Escargot” starts off with bland-ish riffs, but improves greatly with a rollicking chorus. “Kaede” and “Gabera” are both smooth, sweet tunes, and the album-closers are relatively straight-forward numbers and somewhat unmemorable.

Check out this album’s wicked opening track!
夜を駆ける - “Yoru no kagetekuru”

SH

SH

ハヤブサ - Hayabusa, released July 26th 2000, Polydor Records – “Hayabusa”, Spitz’s ninth album starts of strongly: “Ima,” the first of 14 songs, is a decent rocker, but it only sets us up for the second song, definitely one of the band’s best ever, with its jarring opener and the fantastic drum attack and wild infectious choruses (although it’s broken up with a cheezy keyboard solo – nobody’s perfect). “Iruwa” is an atonal rocker, while “Saraba uniform” is a gorgeous ballad. “Amai te” is one of Spitz’s all-time best songs, starting off with simple chords, then going into goregous vocals, and then a heavy, power-ballady chorus. It mixes in slide guitar, and mysterious soundbites in Japanese and Russian (?) that make it a truly mysterious – in a similar way that the Scorpions’ “Born To Touch Your Feelings” is, with its refrain of sexy lady voices from Japanese and Russian and some other languages (check out the video below, from the 5:15 mark) – it’s truly an intriguing song. Enchanting. Having these two extraordinary songs on it probably makes this the best Spitz album to get, in my view – but, of course, they’re all great. The fun continues with “Holiday” (which has nothing to do with the Scorpions classic), and then the wonderful “8823″, a really tied-together all-in-one masterful genius pop song. I don’t know how Kusano does it – he writes almost all of their songs! “Uchu mushi” is a rare instrumental piece, “Heart ga kaeranai” is a gorgeous ballad (again) that makes wonderful use of some very discreet background vocals – lovely, one of this great band’s most beautiful songs. “Memories Custom” is a cheezy retread of one of their aging rockers, “Ore no akai boshi” is a great, dark, moody rocker that starts off with those gorgeous vocals before rocking out with a massive, unfolding riff. The album nears a close with one of Spitz’s best songs, “Je t’aime,” a simple ballad with Kusano singing and unaccompanied on guitar, with some sort of a Chinese er-hu solo. Check it out in the live link below. Final song “Akamu” is pretty good, but a little anticlimactic after “Je t’aime.”




SK

SK

花鳥風月 - Ka’chouhuugetsu, released March 25th 1999, Polydor Records – Compilation of B-sides and unreleased session outtakes, along with newly recorded material (the first two songs) and the re-release of two songs from Spitz’s independently released album “Hibari no kokoro” of 1990, this 1999 release (with songs presented in reverse chronological order) has something for everyone. The hard-cover version of the CD that I got has a booklet inside with lots of geisha pictures, and song credits, along with a loose 24cm x 36cm poster that has an interview with the band printed on the reverse side. The four characters of the cover mean fower-bird-wind-moon, I wonder if each is supposed to represent a member of the band (just like Sonic Youth’s “Experimental Jet Set Trash and No Star” represents each of their members).

Opening track “流れ星” is a very pretty, slow number that is sung in perfect, doleful manner by Kusano, showing off his wonderful voice, it’s a new recording for this CD that goes back to the band’s roots; originally it had a reggae arrangement, but for this re-recording the band decided that this did not sound sophisticated enough for modern tastes, so they re-did it to the current slow number. “Ai no Shirushi” is a well-known song that was written by Kusano for girl-rock band Puffy (i.e. Ami Yumi), the first time Kusano had done so for another band. Okuda Tamio, the Puffy producer (former Unicorn leader and a famous solo recording artist in his own right), had invited them to write for his Puffy project, so Kusano created a new song that also has lyrics that Spitz would have never sung on their own. It’s a bit strange hearing the Spitz version done raw with piano and horns instead of the slick, brash grrrrl-pop of Ami and Yumi. “Speaker”, the B-side for “Kaede”, is good fun, a very nice guitar number with a rousing chorus (a Spitz trademark) that you just want to hear over and over again… and would marvel over the sweet, simple songwriting. “旅人” (a song that was later covered by Cantopop singer Kelly Chan) and “俺のすべて” are decent pop numbers, although these relatively unmemorable B-sides for colossal blockbuster hits “Nagisa” and “Robinson” respectively are actually pretty run-of-the-mill in comparison to the A-side magnificence that preceded them on initial release (ironically, the band thought that “俺のすべて” was a stronger song than “Robinson”, which they thought was too poppy, especially since it uses the strong 俺, a more macho way of saying “I”; the band wonders what their career would have been like if they had made that the A-side instead of “Robinson”, since most people only took note of Spitz when “Robinson” became a monster hit as a single and in a famous TV drama of the time). “Neko ni naritai”, the B-side of the stellar “Aoi kuruma”, doesn’t start off all that promising but it quickly becomes a catchy, cheerful pop song. According to the band interview that comes with the CD, this is one of the favorite songs of long-time Spitz fans, and in song rankings it is often first place. Ditto for “Kokoro no Soko kara”, which has the added benefit of jaunty, cheezy whistling and horns. While the band nowadays finds this song the least remakable song of theirs on this album, Kusano at the time it was written felt that it would give the band their big break. “Mermaid” is a so-so tune, “Cosmos” has low-end keyboard burbling, a bit of percussion, and a big vocal fix. Apparently, “Cosmos”‘s original title was “Belmondo”, because Kusano had been inspired to write it after watching one of Jean-Paul Belmondo’s movies on TV. It’s a bit on the dull side, but sounds nice nonetheless. “Yasei no tulip”, a previously unreleased out-take from their second album, is probably one of the best songs on the album, a jaunty rocker that goes from one high to another with a jangly refrain and infectious verses and chorus, and a nice bridge too of course – he had it in him from the very start. “Tori ni nat’te” has that cheezy early production value, but it still sounds pretty sharp, it is the first song that the band ever wrote, one year after forming. The last two songs on the CD are the first two songs on the band’s independent CD release of 1990, “Hibari no Kokoro” of 1990, which includes six songs (the band had also put out two full cassette releases, as well as two cassette singles before the “Hibari no Kokoro” independent CD). “O’pai”, the first of two songs, is a great, simple, jangly little pop song with a fun, loud chorus (“o’pai” means breast, and the chorus sort of says “your breasts are the best in the world”). What a wonderful tune! “Toge Toge no ki” is just as funky, it’s hard to believe that these wonderful songs were released as far back as 1990! “Woo-oo-oo-oo genki de ne/ Woo-oo-oo-oo itsu demo.” (Other songs on the Hibari no Kokoro indie CD, not included here – or anywhere else so far as I know – are the title track, “353 Gousen no Uta”, “Koi no Uta” and “Shi nimo no Kurui no Kagerou o Miteita”, the latter of which is translated as “I saw the ephemera of insanity unto death”, which makes me wonder how close the hidden four are to the band’s punk roots; a re-recording of the title track appears on the band’s first album).

Check out the original Puffy release of “愛のしるし” of 1998, followed by the Spitz version of 1999.


S99

S99

99ep, released January 1st 1999, Polydor Records – Opening number “High Fi, Lo Fi” is a jaunty rock number. “Sakana” is a sweet, sombre, ballad. “Seishun Ikinokori Game”, the last track, is a pretty good rocker with a gorgeous, long solo that sounds technically innovative. The songs were also put on the 色色衣 - Iroiro Goromo compilation that was released on March 21st 2004, placed into the 2, 4 and 7 positions (instead of 1, 2, 3 on this one), but with new mixes for ハイファイ・ローファイ and 青春生き残りゲーム … meaning that the record company doesn’t really need to keep this EP in print.

SFF

SFF

フェイクファー - Fake Fur, released March 25th 1998, Polydor Records – Fake Fur… what a great album title. Spitz’s eighth release starts off with a… a lullaby! It then gets rockin’ with a bland-ish tune, before things get a bit more interesting with “Unmei no hito,” a tender ballad. The fifth and sixth songs are excellent, especially “Kaede,” once again a gorgeous ballad in the vein of “Robinson”. “Supernova” is a laid-back rocker, while “Tada Matsu wo matsu” has a summery feel to it. “Xie Xie” is a fun, jazzy number with horns that is fun to learn how to play on guitar (simple chords), and “Scarlet” is a very very very catchy jangly ballad – so easy to fall in love with this song. Album closer “Fake Fur” is an intense, plodding rocker that is definitely one of their best non-ballads on this album.

SIC

SIC

インディゴ地平線 - Indigo Chiheisen, released October 23rd 1996 – The opener of Spitz’s seventh release, “Hana Dorobo”, is a rocker that for some reason annoys me with its bland riff, but the follower “Hatsuren crazy” is probably one of their better numbers, a jaunty pop song that has everything it needs. “Indigo no Chiheisen”, also the name of the album, is another great pop song. Do these guys do anything else but write great, jangly, guitar pop songs? Fourth song “Nagisa” is probably one of their top five songs, with burbly keyboards like I’ve never heard before, a great buildup, drums that take on a life of their own, and a chorus that can’t be beat. “Hayate, which follows it, is not so bad for a simple pop song, but it doesn’t have the flourishes of “Nagisa”. “Bunnygirl” is another catchy song that won’t leave your brain, while “Houki sei” is gloomy and timeless. The last song on the disk is “Cherry,” probably the band’s biggest hit after the enduring hit “Robinson.”

By the way, if you don’t believe me about “Nagisa,” check out the song for yourself:

SH

SH

ハチミツ - Hachimitsu, released September 20th 1995, Polydor Records – Spitz’s sixth release is probably one of their best. Title track opener “ハチミツ” is a gorgeous folk rocker with funny lyrics “great lover, honey / strange lover, honey”. “涙がキラリ☆” is a little on the dull side, but it is a well-written song, ditto for “歩き出せ、クローバー”. “ルナルナ” is jaunty and moves along at a good clip, with nice, jazzy guitar work. “愛のことば” and “トンガリ’95″ are nice-enough songs, even if they are a bit uninteresting. “あじさい通り” is a fun pop song that uses strange keyboard sounds, new wave guitar chords and fluid bass, with a great chorus. “ロビンソン” is by far the band’s most famous song, and after all these years it’s still one of their best, with a very interesting riff, pleasant production values, and a soaring chorus – an anthem that can get an entire room of Japanese off their feet. “Y” is a very very beautiful ballad, that’s all I can say about it. “グラスホッパー” is a pretty regular rocker with a cheezy chorus, while “君と暮らせたら” is a so-so pop song.

SST

SST

空の飛び方 - Sora no Tobikata, released September 21st, 1994, Polydor Records – Spitz’s fifth release starts off strong with “Tamago”, and it’s followed by plenty of strong songs. This was the last album that Spitz was NOT a blockbuster band because they still had the smash hit “Robinson” from their sixth release “Hachimitsu” ahead of them. Nevertheless, it has fantastic tunes like “Sora mo toberuhazu,” which has a sweet opening riff that sounds like an early Beatles classic – stunning. Unfortunately, it’s followed immediately by a rare Spitz clunker, “迷子の兵隊”. The fifth song starts off with horns and is a lot of fun, full of Kusano’s sandy vocals and with great production values, so is rocker “Hushishin no penas”. “Raspberry” is good fun, with horns (and a few strings), it’s a jaunty full-on Spitz song, with nice fuzz guitar and clean breaks. “Hechima no Hana” has interesting baroque elements and groovy keyboards, it’s a gorgeous jazz number in some ways and quite inventive in terms of its production values. With some great background vocals, this song has really grown on me over the years, to the point that I’ve become totally enchanted with it (I think it’s the background vocals, they add just the right touch). Stunning.

SC

SC

Crispy! Released September 26th 1993, Polydor Records – Crispy! is the band’s fourth release, and it suffers from some of the rough early production values that they used to have, but on repeated listenings it’s certainly hard to find any songs that are filler. Only the second song, “Natsu ga owaru”, suffers from too many strings (as do a few others, like the welling orchestra that sneaks up on “Kimi dake wo”, and the surging choppy violins of “Kuroi Tsubasa”, which blend with nifty guitars and icky space vocals at the end!), but other songs are just wonderfully textured with the measured pace of lead singer Kusano Masamune’s sandy vocals. Album closer “Kuroi Tsubasa” is one of Spitz’s rare not-so-good songs (the band’s 5th, 7th, and 9th albums also have a few not-so-good songs).

SHK

SHK

惑星のかけら – Hoshi no Kakera, released September 26th 1992, Polydor Records - Spitz’s third release starts with the title track “惑星のかけら”, jumping right into a grinding heavy metal intro that kind of makes you scratch your head and say “this is Spitz? Yuck!” But the listener quickly realises that the song is gorgeous and catchy with a really killer chorus. “ハニーハニー” starts off with a lot of noise, but then goes into a sort of rocky quiet/loud tune that sounds rather old. “僕の天使マリ” is a jaunty rocker with a shuffle beat that kind of zips along, but is not all that memorable. “オーバードライブ” is a tight ’70s-style rocker with a lot of guitar flourishes. “アパート” nearly sounds like a Cure song, the way it starts off, but it quickly becomes a standard very well-written Spitz song that puts a great emphasis on arpeggios and guitar work. And now – considering that this CD so far has been the weakest of the first three releases – comes another one of their standout tracks, “シュラフ”, a haunting pop tune that has some wicked flutework at the beginning, and a really magical flute solo (yes, I’m surprised too). “白い炎” is an uninteresting rocker, while “波のり波のり” downright boring. “日なたの窓に憧れて” is a so-so pop/rock song that is heavy on the keyboards. “ローランダー、空へ” is gloomy and grungy, not very interesting; the production adds a lot of echo to the vocals, making it sound more dated than most of the early Spitz songs. The guitar solo is pure cheese, helping it to win the award for the weakest song on the album. The CD closes with “リコシェ号”, a short, interesting rocker with some bizarre electronic sounds in it. Funny – the kid shooting a bow and arrow on the cover looks just a little bit like my son Zen.

SANHT

SANHT

Aurora ni Narenakatta Hito no Tame ni EP – オーロラになれなかった人のために EP, released April 25th 1992, Polydor Records – The band released this five-song EP between their second and third albums, and in a way it’s their most experimental release, with a brass section, strings, and noise passages, while making very little use of the bass, drum and guitar – vocalist and songwriter Kusano is the main participant here. The first song, “魔法 Mahou”, (magic), is probably the best, starting out as a nice acoustic pop song, before flaring up with a big brass section, and then moving out with some pretty funky sound effects. “田舎の生活 Inaka no Seikatsu”, (country life), is a simple, pretty song with voice, acoustic guitar and xylophone, strings. “ナイフ Naihu”, (knife), is full of the Spitz trademark shimmering guitar, some bass and drum, but then the song dissolves into pure vocals, picking up again with slow drums, and eventually strings that builds into a heady, simmering swell. Not many of Spitz’s songs are so dominated by Kusano’s smoky voice. At nearly seven minutes, it’s also by far the longest song the band has ever done. “海ねこ Umi Neko”, (sea cat,) starts off with funky bass and keyboard and then busts out into a brass section-led funker. The song indulges in a weird section of dissonance, before getting back on track. “涙 Namida”, (tears), has voice, harpsicord and strings. Yes, it’s pretty weird.

SNTY

SNTY

名前をつけてやる - Namae wo Tsukete Yaru, released November 25th 1991, Polydor Records – The opening track of Spitz’s second album, “ウサギのバイク”, starts out with mellow la-la-la-la’s and doo-doo-doo-doo’s, a long instrumental intro, and then half way through the short three-minute song the lyrics begin. Perfect guitar pop. “日曜日” is a charming rocker, while title track “名前をつけてやる” is a bit more experimental, with odd sounds, but is ultimately true to guitar pop roots with a rousing chorus. “鈴虫を飼う” is one of the better songs on the album, starting out with a slight balalaika jangly sound, it’s got a gorgeous slightly-slower-than-you-expect feel to it throughout and a phenomenal, gorgeous chorus. One of the band’s first real standout tracks. “ミーコとギター” is a pretty standard rocker, nothing exciting, while “プール” is a pretty standard mellow tune, nothing exciting here either. “胸に咲いた黄色い花” is a punchy rocker with some pretty dodgy production standards – its tune is pretty enough, though. “待ちあわせ” rocks as well, but is a bit monotonal. “あわ” is an unusual tune for Spitz, it is sort of a jaunty boogie tune with a long intro, it’s a lot of fun and has very nice vocals. “恋のうた” is even more interesting – it has a quick vocal start, and then gets into some sort of a Carribean/carnival sounding song. The CD is capped by “魔女旅に出る”, a well-known and catchy pop song that is actually not all that remarkable.

SS

SS

スピッツ - Spitz, released March 25th, 1991, Polydor Records – Spitz’s first album. Although I didn’t really expect Spitz’s early albums to be any good, since some of the production values of the older songs I heard was pretty dated, I did want to get all of them for continuity. I was very pleasantly surprised to find very many very good songs on the first release (although I probably shouldn’t be – good songwriters are usually good from the start… you either have it or you don’t). “ニノウデの世界”, the first song of their major label career, is a rocker as good as any you’d hear on any of their later albums. The fully-formed Spitz sound is instantly recognizable: crunchy riffs, smooth and clear vocals, with great choruses. “海とピンク” is a bit on the dull side, but drives on and on nonetheless and is fine music. “ビー玉” seems to be a bit of an Everly Brothers throwback, real early ’60s sound and a pleasant song with fine vocals. “五千光年の夢” is a punchy, boppy guitar pop song with a simple opening riff and a long “la la la la la la la la” vocal bit that is a bit silly, but not unpleasant. “月に帰る” is not very interesting at the start, but it becomes a very nice vocal tune, before building up into something extraordinary. “テレビ” starts off with a hillbilly vibe that becomes a bit punkish, before changing on cue into a standard well-written, well-produced Spitz song. “タンポポ” starts out with moods sound effects, then majestic power chords, before the voice comes in, probably one of the mellowest song on the album (but not exactly a ballad either). “死神の岬へ” is another lovely mid-tempo rocker, as is “トンビ飛べなかった” (aren’t they all?). “夏の魔物” is a great rocker, followed by the plaintive “うめぼし”, a sweet vocal/acoustic guitar/cello ballad (there always has to be one, it seems). The closing song is the famous “ヒバリのこころ”, a jaunty, galloping number, which had been the title of the indie CD they had released in 1990 just before signing to Polydor and releasing “Spitz” in 1991. Not a stinker among the lot, this could have been an ABBA album. Interestingly, none of the songs on “Spitz” seem to appear on any of the band’s very early indie releases (which includes four cassettes, with 2-7 songs on them, and a 6-song CD) except for the last track, which had been the title of their sole indie CD release, although songs from the early days like “Tori ni natte”, “Oppai” and others did show up on the 1999 “花鳥風月” compilation.

Here’s the band themselves – you don’t see them on their album covers, but there are four guys in the band.

SP-band

SP-band

About My big bad Spitz page

I made this page as a tribute to Spitz after I realised that there is a dearth of information in English about the band out there and that, since I own probably all of their recorded material, I should do something about sharing this information.

If you wish to write to me with your comments and questions, please drop me a line at peter at hoflich dot com.

You may also wish to check out:

My big bad Boris page
My big bad Ultra Fuckers page

My big bad Ultra Fuckers page

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Yes, there is no Japanese band more infamous than the Ultra Fuckers (also known as UxFx, which uses an abbreviation/euphemism style along the lines set down by SxOxBx and other like-minded punk and scum bands). This website is a tribute to this legendary unit and offers:

  • Band information
  • Chronological CD and DVD reviews
  • Photos
  • Historical concert reviews
  • Links to live videos
  • Slackness

About the band:

This is how the band describes itself on its Lost Frog band page:

UF called “King of Scum” “Psychedelic Warrior” in Osaka. Their happy sound bridges from HC/Flexi-your-head style to German/Klaut rock. Fully retarded and naked in funny noise taste. Their produce event “Scum Nite” anytime, Faxed Head, Caroliner Rainbow, Zip Code Rapists, Half Japanese, UG Man, ENE, Monotract, Mr.Velocity Hopkins, etc. acted in past.

Note the creative use of misspellings (“Klaut rock”), intentional or otherwise. The band members are:

Kawai Kazuki Langley – Masked Vocal, Jaminator
Izumi Headache – Talentless Guitar
Tom Nagata – Non-breakable Drums
Past members: Irie Kazuma, Matsumoto Kamekichi Takuya, Ishikuma Manabu, Mob Norio (who won the Akutagawa Prize, the highest honor of the literary world in Japan, in 2004 for Introduction to Nursing Care (介護入門 Kaigo nyu-mon), which describes how a man takes care of his ailing, aging grandparent.

A bit of background. I lived in Taiwan in the mid-nineties, and while it was a nice experience I missed taking in the live music experience I only got a small taste of in my college town of Waterloo (memorable bands I got to see there were Nomeansno and Art Bergman, although Fugazi came through on their In On The Killtaker tour that brought them to Guelph… which I, quite stupidly, didn’t bother to go to).

In 1998 I moved to Osaka, Japan, and started looking into what the live scene there had to offer, not even realising that it was probably one of the best in the world at that time. One of the first shows I ever saw in Osaka had the Ultra Fuckers on the bill. Loving their name just as much as their anarchic show, I followed them through the years until I moved off to Singapore in 2003.

I’ve stayed in touch with Kawai Kazuki Langley, the band’s lead singer and main madman. Via mail from Singapore, I’d share with him my video recordings of Ultra Fuckers shows that I’d recorded, compiling three of them on a home-made DVD that I called “A Half Dozen Ulra Fuckers Fans Can’t B e Wrong”, with the credits calling it “Hangover in Death City.” The opening shot is the classic scene of Kawai jumping off his stepladder, somersaulting in the air, and landing on his shoulder (which resulted in a visit to the hospital). The scene is slowed down, and the musical accompaniment is Cat Power’s short cover of “Free Bird” (0:38 – just the right length). The DVD contains 27 tracks and is footage from three concerts the band played in 2002 and 2003, including one where they opened for Half Japanese. I sent it to Kawai in April, 2005.

In 2007 I got an email from him saying that he’d put it out as a DVD called Bone Crush Memory, and he sent me a copy of it for my very own. Popping it into the player, I saw that it is the exact DVD that I had made for him, not a thing changed! At the same time, he also sent me a few other Ultra Fuckers odds ‘n’ ends, including the King of Scum Ultra Fuckers at KB*CC 2003 CD, which is a sound rip of 12 tracks from the DVD! So Kawai got two products out of my little present to him and the band. Now, do I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of? Should I? Of course not!! This is the Ultra Fuckers we’re talking about here, it’s my honour to be a small part of this great thing!!!!! Thanks, Kawai!

I’ve put all of the clips from the DVD online for the public’s viewing pleasure:

I last heard from him this year in January when he was looking for ways to book his friend’s band, Ydestroyde, in the US. I’d love to bring them to Singapore, my band could open for them; let’s see how it goes.

Hey, some guy called Carlton Mellick III wrote a book called Ultra Fuckers!! It’s suburban horror!!! Groovy cover, man… Read my review of the book here.

UFCMIII

UFCMIII

Ultra Fuckers discography

ULtra Fuckers discography

Ulftra Fuckers Old Warrior's Worship

Ulftra Fuckers Old Warrior’s Worship

Old Warrior’s Worship MP3 album, 2008, Lost Frog Productions – This is a rehash of the band’s Retail Karaokei EP, down to every last song. Download the full album and artwork here, read the review of Retail Karaokei below.

Ultra Fuckers Radio Controlled Scum

Ultra Fuckers Radio Controlled Scum

Radio Controlled Scum live CD, 2008, mimi records – The first song on this, “Mars Sky Girls” is sort of ambient, albeit with pretty heavy drums, and Kawai’s aggressive moaning, muttering and hollering on top of it all. The song builds and builds and builds, until it becomes quite mental, but other than that it is rather same-y (the way all ambient music is, of course). “Evening After Broke” has harmonica and weird shrill-and-googly electronics going up and along. It’s just a short song that doesn’t really try to go anywhere. “Radio Controlled Scum” has a disco beat with some muttering and stuttering. “In the Microwave (remix)” is keyboard doodling over light beats, while “Live 2006.04.09 (bonus)” is a short, one-minute sample of nifty beats and crowd yelling. Yay.

Ultra Fuckers Bone Crush Memory DVD

Ultra Fuckers Bone Crush Memory DVD

Ultra Fuckers “Bone Crush Memory” video archives 2002-2003 DVD, 2007, Central Scum – After I moved to Singapore in 2003, I stayed in touch with Kawai by email, and now Facebook. In 2005, I edited my old video cartridges with my new iMac and burned a DVD of my video recordings of Ultra Fuckers shows that I’d recorded, compiling three of them on a home-made DVD that I called “A Half Dozen Ulra Fuckers Fans Can’t B e Wrong”, with the credits calling it “Hangover in Death City.” The opening shot is the classic scene of Kawai jumping off his stepladder, somersaulting in the air, and landing on his shoulder (which resulted in a visit to the hospital). The scene is slowed down, and the music is Cat Power’s short cover of “Free Bird” (0:38 – just the right length). The DVD contains 27 tracks and is footage from three concerts the band played in 2002 and 2003, including one where they opened for Half Japanese. I sent it to Kawai in April, 2005.

In 2007 I got an email from him saying that he’d put it out as a DVD called “Bone Crush Memory”. He sent me a copy, and when I put it in I saw that the contents is the exact same DVD that I had made for him, not a thing changed! He also sent me a few other Ultra Fuckers odds ‘n’ ends, including the “King of Scum Ultra Fuckers at KB*CC 2003″ CD, which is a sound rip of 12 tracks from the DVD! So Kawai got two products out of my little present to him and the band. So, do I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of? Of course not!! This is the Ultra Fuckers we’re talking about here, it’s my honour to be a small part of this great thing!!!!!

The best thing about the DVD is the packaging, which says:

Special thanks to Matt Caufman (Exile osaka), Jad Fair and Half Japanese, Jason Willet, Fuck to hospital.
Recorded and Directed by Peter Brian Holfich.
Presented by Nerdby Pictures.

That’s me, Peter Brian Hoflich, and “Nerdby Pictures” is my iMac-based production house. So, hooray, I get my first real film credit! Matt Kaufmann’s name is misspelled too… oh well.

There’s also a cool line drawing illustrating Kawai’s famous stage jump, which I’ve managed to capture so awesomely (if I do say so myself) on the release, and which can be seen in the opening credits. The jump can be seen at the end of this clip:

This video, by the way has been seen 15,000 times!!!

The video shows the raucousness of the shows, as well as the people in the audience having a great time. I don’t need to review this, though, you can check it out for yourselves in a a YouTube playlist of all 27 tracks on the DVD:

Ultra Fuckers with Droppen G. in Nagoya 2006.Jan.28 DVD

Ultra Fuckers with Droppen G. in Nagoya 2006.Jan.28 DVD

Ultra Fuckers with Droppen G. in Nagoya 2006.Jan.28. DVD, 2006, Central Scum – Nearly forty minutes of live music, it opens up with the band setting up onstage, with the infamous stepladder on the left side, and then Kawai gets going with his nutty audience babble with the bag over his head. Yay. There is a drummer, two tables of electronic gear, a strange person with a fuzzy sheepskin hat like the one my mom had when I was a kid who mainly bobs around and stomps the stage in beat, and the show builds up weird noise and strangeness. After a while, Kawai puts on his toy guitar, but I don’t hear any of the usual sounds coming out of it. He groans and garbles and gnashes his teeth. The wooly hat person uses drumsticks on the stage itself for percussion, meanwhile the drummer is still not doing anything. Kawai’s voice becomes robotic. Pretty keyboards kick in, the drummer gets going at about the 10-minute mark, the lyrics become soothing and echo-y. The music becomes weird techno/disco, dominated by the stepladder-percussion that just gloms on and on and on and on. The noise starts to get really quite abrasive 25 minutes into the show, and Kawai is spazzing into the mic, his voice sounding like electric shocks. In the last five minutes, drummer Tom Nagata went crazy on the drums, while stepladder artist Tamon Sin climbed the ladder to tap it from the top.

According to the title menu, the tracks are: “Intro”, “Setting”, “Gate of Hyper Dimension”, “Fantasy”, “Call of time”, “Ride to microwave”, “Fall of fame”, “Finish of the end”. You’d never know that there are distinct songs, though, as there are no breaks in the show.

Ultra Fuckers March 20th 2005 Scum Nite live

Ultra Fuckers March 20th 2005 Scum Nite live

Frog Console – March 20th, 2005 DVD, 2005, SCUM NITE live – Being a DVD of live recordings of Ultra Fuckers, Suspiria, Surfers of Romantica (yay) and Atsushi Tsuyama. Wicked! Wish I had been there, but in 2005 I was already living in Singapore, where the Ultra Fuckers would not have been very welcome.

The Ultra Fuckers set starts off with Kawai picking up a real guitar (not a toy guitar), then fiddling with some electronics and a goofy keyboard. The drummer is drumming lightly. There’s the stepladder. Some crazy buzzsaw sounds kick in, furry bristling keyboard, then the usual blathering and yelling starts up, Kawai wails on the bluesy guitar (and this is something new for me to behold!). Electronics fade out, the guitar kicks in, the noise burbles back and forth, echo-y vocal, then more howling, wailing guitar on and on. Robot vocal, big drums, gnashing of teeth, Kawai loses the head bag. The music fades away, Kawai yells his head off, the music picks up, all echoes, Izumi Headache comes out wearing a backpack (or is it just some random audience member?) and grinds away at the guitar from the top of the stepladder, stumbles around the stage, screams into the mic, but nothing is amplified, Kawai is still yelling and screaming away. The freaky electronic programmed echo noise continues on and on, it sounds great. Izumi eventually finds a microphone that works and screams away, although the guitar never kicks in again… until later when Kawai picks it up and gets it going with the flick of a switch (so what was all that air guitar about then?). the guitar noise fades out and that’s it – show over. Some mellow tunes come over the PA and we get… crowd conversation. The whole thing was 38 fucking minutes long, man!!!

Suspiria is nearly 29 minutes of musical experimentation, with a cello providing the drone, ambient noise covers it, drumming, and piercing echoed and distorted screams full of feedback coming from a dancing dude in a Stone Roses-style floppy hat. The drummer is really going crazy, so are the electronics, so is the singer, so is the cellist. It forms a bizarre super slam bit of nuttiness. At some point it begins to sound like fluid Krautrock nuttiness. After ten minutes, the band launches into a series of shorter songs. The second song, which sounds bass-led (there seems to be a bass player in the wings somewhere, out of camera view), and the singer raps and screams on as the band pulses on in a heavy beat. The third tune is cello and voice cacophony, which becomes spanking prog rock. The fourth tune is cello-led and spooky with big doomy bass lines and screaming. “Thank you very ma-cho.” Spastic electronic noise, quickly becomes driving hardcore noise, which eventually drones out, then picks up as more Kraut-rock coloured nuttiness. By the end, it’s very Apocalyptica, as the cello, vocalist and drummer stomp in a glorious “For Whom The Bell Tolls”-style beat-driven grindout.

The Surfers of Romantica also have a very long jam set, with a bunch of hippies in hats onstage, and one lady in a long hippy dress there. The uptake is slow, building up a long, slinky, groovy keyboard and percussion-driven buildup with a bit of trumpet and bass thrown in, grooving and zooming for fun. The drone drones on and on and on and then… 18 minutes in… with 20 minutes left in the set… everything moves up a notch with frantic and furious noise slam, stopping and starting… on and on… after 26 minutes the noise peels away, revealing a funky guitar riff that has the crowd bopping, then the electronics pick up and there’s jumping onstage to the loud beats. Lots of dancing onstage and in the audience, good fun all around.

Finally, Atsushi Tsuyama, who’s played in such legenary bands as Omoide Hatoba and Acid Mothers Temple Paradiso UFO, comes on with his electric-acoustic guitar to play 17 minutes of virtuosic fretboard magic. It has a bit of noise and feedback at the beginning, but otherwise it’s a glistening semi-acoustic and psychedelic jam-out version of what you’d normally hear distorted beyond utter belief (and totally unlistenable except as a wave of raw noise) at an Omoide Hatoba show. The music is spooky, Middle Eastern-sounding, and very beautiful. At one point he pulls out a glass slide and wails away with that fore a while too. Great close-up footage of him playing away, we can clearly see the full guitar and both hands. At a certain point, he just stops playing, turns off the amp, says “arigatou”, and leaves the stage.

Video from the shows, with the exception of Atsushi Tsuyama’s, was taken from mid-club, and is basically blocked by the heads of the people in the crowd, we can mostly see the stage action through their heads (Tsuyama’s set was probably the first one, when the crowd was thinner). Don’t know why the cameraman settled for a bad angle – when I was shooting video at Namba Bears, I usually made sure I was right up in front with my camera, selfishly recording the events for posterity. Too bad.

Ultra Fuckers Psychedelic Warrior

Ultra Fuckers Psychedelic Warrior

Psychedelic Warrior, New Legend from Ultra Fuckers CD, 2004, Lost Frog Productions – This is sort of like the Ultra Fuckers greatest hits CD, if such a thing can ever be imagined. It’s also an odd creature, being mostly songs that sound fairly nice and clean and all recorded in the studio, a world away from the rough and tumble low-tech Ultra Fuckers live experience. The collection was released in 2004, shortly after one-time member Mob Norio won the prestigious Akutagawa literary prize, probably to capitalise on his new-found recognition, and he’s listed as a full member (this is the only Ultra Fuckers release he’s listed on; he’s otherwise been listed on the Petit U-fu CD that was released in 2000).

“Yakamarahine” is a bit of vocal theatre from Kawai, augmented here by a fair amount of electronics. “D.A.F.” starts off with electronics and drums, then guitar, it turns into a solid rock driver. “Bandee Jump” is a regular rocker, while “Mescaline Drive” kicks out the jams as a nut-busting punk track that growls and groans, and punky “Oooh oh-oh-oh”. “Ahhha Uwwww” starts off with weird electronic noises, then jumps into sharp spastic scum noise, with toy guitar samples galore. The main lyrics are simple “Ahhha Uwwww”. “Hanson” is a weird little cover of Hanson’s “MMMbop”, which starts off with some weird singing by Kawai before becoming, undeniably, a cover of the teeny one hit wonder band’s squeaky hit, except the Ultra Fuckers rip it apart with hellacious aplomb and shards of spiky guitar splatter (and a bit of scratching too, of course…). “Scene Death” is hard and fast hardcore with weird background vocals. “(Seena) Ringo” starts off with weird vocal beats, electronics and ultimately big guitar and screaming noise, big riffs and beats. Oof! “Opopo” is the same repetitive riff, beat and verse over and over again, until brainless barking takes over, then it goes back to riff-beat-verse mode, ha ha ha. “Prince of the Land of the Rising Sun” starts off with vocal sounds, then beat and light guitar with vocal growls, singing, and then bigger and bigger guitar, and ultimately to that huge rousing chorus and more smashout. “King of Heart” has squeaky guitar and sax and driving vocal scum, then a Suicidal Tendencies moment, as the song moves its game up a notch. Great drum break as it builds up to a “Human Cannonball” outro that just gets bigger and bigger. Kawai’s shredded voice cracks and cracks until he sounds ready to pass out. And with good reason – at over four minutes long, this is the longest on the album. “B.B.Gun” is full of gunshots and great loud scuzzy scummy guitar riffs and drums. Kawai screams “I want a B.B. gun” over and over again, it’s pure scum madness. “Progressive” is mixed-together noise and samples, with big Nine Inch Nails nastiness and the rest of the kitchen sink also thrown in for good measure. This is a “Party mix by ENE”. Very good wacky fun.

Izumi Headache’s guitar sound on this album is particularly repulsive and abrasive. In other words, it sounds fantastic!

Ultra Fuckers Hyper Dimension Demo

Ultra Fuckers Hyper Dimension Demo

Hyper Dimension: Demo CD, 2004, Central Scum – A great little bit of demented electronica from the Ultra Fuckers. All songs are structured similarly, with some sort of driving electro dreamed up by Mr Kawai Kazuki Langley himself, with some additional guitar sound effects thrown in and some funky old drumming. Second song “Hyper Dimension pt.1(short)” is the longest track on the album, and it contains some insane groaning from Kawai as well. Tracks 1, 3 and 5 were recorded live on my birthday in 2004, while the remaining two tracks were done in the studio the same month. Final track “Solar Expert” is only about two minutes long, it slows down and winds things down to a near stop.

Ultra Fuckers King of Scum KB*CC 2003

Ultra Fuckers King of Scum KB*CC 2003

King of Scum Ultra Fuckers at KB*CC 2003 live CD, 2003, Central Scum – This is the ultra Ultra Fuckers experience: the concert was recorded and released as part of the Bone Crush Memory DVD, the concert is reviewed below, and the full KB*CC 2003 concert, including 13 tracks by Ultra Fuckers, is available on YouTube. The concert is probably one of the band’s most energetic (other bands playing on the bill were Go Kitty, Love Beach, Love or Die, Ossan Alpha, Saboten Kyodai, Tripod Jimmy and Dave Wesson).

I love this concert, maybe because I was one of about 30 people there and my voice can be heard prominently whooping on the band, yelling out things like “BB Gun,” “Psychedelic Warrior”, etc. Kawai gives each song an intro, so there are really only six songs and six intro-bits. The opening track, like so many Ultra Fuckers shows, is Kawai talking to the audience, but he keeps it short and launches into “Take On Maria”, which is driving hardcore that becomes a scream-a-thon with weird guitar riffs and plenty of splashy drumming. “We want to FUCK” is introduces the band, stuff like “We are Ultra Fuckers, we want to fuck. This day is a good, fine days.” Kawai asks for more delay. “B.B.Gun” is weird rock-out. “Prince of the Rising Sun” is a prog-rock song that has vocal stuff, then weird gurgles and guitar and drum stuff to build up the intro, then the song goes into quasi-rap, some crowd interaction before ending up on thrash-of-sorts. The crowd sings “Ringo Ringo” to the tune of “Linda Linda”, Kawai shouts “I love Shiina Ringo”, but doesn’t play the “Shiina Ringo Song”. He ask the crowd “are you punk?”, then launches into “PUNK SONG”, a groovy punker with weirdly distorted vocals that make his voice sound like a robot. The song is happy and oi oi singalong. “Takara Deta” starts off with wicked hellstorm noise, then gurgles with rising vocals into a pumeling grunged-out buzzer wrought with danger. The song begins to soar, and it’s a beautiful thing that is also noisy and chaotic. “Thank you.” “Talk about love” is all like “I hate love, I hate love, you might be lonely, always lonely. I like the traveller of the desert. We hate love, we hate marriage,” to which I shouted out “we love money.” The band plays “Bandee Jump” (i.e. bungee jump), a fast rocker that drives and drives and drives.

This recording is the extracted audio of a concert video that I took of the band that I sent to Kawai in 2005 that contains footage from three concerts, including this one. On the CD inlay, Kawai writes “Dedicated to Peter Holfich, Thanx to Matt EXILE and KTO”. He spelled my name wrong, but this is scum – things are supposed to be spelled wrong.

Escape From Home Recording

Escape From Home Recording

Escape From Home Recording, CD EP, August 14th 2003 – Opening track “You Fuck!” has everything you’ve ever heard before in an Ultrafuckers song: froggy groaning, speedy arpeggios, grimy guitar, weird high BPM electronic beats, and general spasticness. “G.W.A.R.” starts of like a mid-speed standard rock tune with a bit of cracked dissonance (the guitars aren’t quite tuned), but Kawai brings it back to weirdness with his rough voice; still, the tune is oddly conventional. It almost sounds like a Killdozer song. “Mummy Tribe” is horrible Killdozer-like growling with weird electronics and someone screeching “Mummy!”

Download the album and its artwork here, or listen to it in the embedded player here:

Ultra Fuckers 2002.07.21. Live at Bears

Ultra Fuckers 2002.07.21. Live at Bears

2002.08.21 Live at Bears CD, 2002, Public Eyesore – The band comes out yelling like the German nihilists in the Big Lebowski, but also saying “nice to meet you… nice to meet you… and nice to meet you… welcome.” Craziness is “We’re ultra Fuckers, we need to fuck, we only think about fuck, we need only fuck. You want fuck? Chose one fuckless life, fuck for life, fuck all life, fuck bride. The world contains all fuck.” The “song” is called “Talk about fucking.” “I have a mouth… and I like mouth. And about to my mouth songs. My mouth, my mouth, my mouth is molasses. My mouth is my acid, my mouth is my acid.” The first song, “My Mouth Eat My Acid” is guitar, drum, and Kawai’s screaming the title over and over. The song eventually gets a good head on as the guitar solo picks up into great noise territory. “My Family Under The Wall” is a long, doomy grunge-out with some extra music – it sounds like the band is playing with a big, booming bass grooning out big glommy lines. “Living On The Edge” is more of the same, with big bass sounds and super drums, with plenty of screaming. The bass overpowers, you can hardly hear the guitar at all. “Yakamarahine” is mainly Kawai singing a nice little song, with a bit of accompanying noise, sort of like theatre performance art. “Fuck Soon” starts with low bass, goofy guitar, but builds up and up until Kawai is just screaming “I want to fuck!” The song repeats and drones on and on in this vein. At nearly seven minutes, it is their second-longest song after “Hyper Dimension Pt.1 (short)”, which is over 11 minutes of electronica. “Death Karaoke ’02″ sounds like Kawai singing along to canned music, some old Japanese pop song. The bass and the drum comes in near the end for big pummeling.

I wasn’t at this show. The CD comes with no arwork, but it has the flyer of the show, which had headline act Monoliner playing with Ono of Solmania (wow!), Ultra Fuckers, Aska Temple and Ydestroyde. I don’t know anything about Monoliner, but Aska Temple are great, and Ydestroyde even better! See my reviews of those bands here (where I mistakenly list Ydestroyde as “I Destroyed”.

Ultra Fuckers Box – Lost Frog Records. Limited Edition of 2, containing Humanity of UF, Ultra Fuckers/Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink “Bring My Eye”, Karaoke Bootleg 2, and A Tribute To Evangelion – Available at the Ultra Fuckers 10th anniversary/Scum Nite 10 at Bears February 11th , 2002. I bought one, Jeff Bell of Beauty Pear (see Exile Osaka 5) bought the other. His is splashed with sochu that I drunkenly spilled on it (sorry, Jeff), but mine still looks nice. The four tape releases in it are available outside of the box, though, so I don’t know if it was such a good deal. After I bought it the three members of the band came over to me and thanked me personally for buying it. I got them to sign it – Kawai drew a stick guy with a gun and wrote “BxBx Gun.” This is a sassy personal remark, since every time I see them I heckle them to play “B.B. Gun Song” until they finally do. I’m glad he remembered. Actually, the owner of Lost Frog Records, who was there playing with the Surfers of Romantica that night, came over to me and thanked me personally as well, I think he even gave me a deep bow!!

Humanity of UF is a lo-fi 20-minute tape that comes in a zip-lock bag with a color-photocopied insert. Very crappy, of course, but also very un-pretentious. Lo-fi sounds, radio samples, Kawai talking into a mic about nothing, bizarre fuzzy hardcore, distorted voice experiments, some crap ’80s pop that is clearly not UxFx, and that’s all she wrote. Bring My Eye is good fuzzy strange noisy UxFx, perhaps their best stuff. Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink is good too, especially the “Richard Nixon is innocent” stuff and “we’d like to thank the other bands for sucking so much.” (longer review below) Tribute To Evangelion is very strange music. Two 60-minute lo-fi tapes with a color photocopy insert in a bag, it’s music from the influential anime series Evangelion – that I haven’t seen. A memorable theme, then with the Sinatra classic “Fly Me To The Moon” done over a dozen different ways. Only one track by Ultra Fuckers, other collaborators are Tabata’s Human Insect, Fossil Fuel, Osaka SS, Ono Yasuhiko of Solmania, and 25 others I don’t know much about. Very odd noise/groove/sample/pop/punk/funk/satire music going crazy, not to mention dialogue samples that might be from the series itself? But I wouldn’t know, would I? Punch Head sings a strange, lewd version of “Fly Me To The Moon” called “Punch Me To Your Head”. Ultra Fuckers song “Sync-La” is a short muttered thing, hard to notice. Of the many versions of “Fly Me To The Moon”, AxTxFx/Z.T.T.’s torture speed version of the song is probably the best, although other odd versions are good too. Karaoke Bootleg 2 is a 1995 recording on a 90 minute tape, comes with a photocopied song list and a color-photocopied art insert in a zip-loc bag, and is basically 41 strange songs by 26 bands. Most bands only offer one song, but the Ultra Fuckers offer four! (Surfers of Romantica one, Mania Organ two, Coa also two). All songs great fuzzy lo-fi scum and odd sounds that may or may not be Hawkwind derived – mellow guitar, insane guitar, wild bass, shrieking, etc. Things like Bitch Bootleg are very strange and talky. The Coa tracks sound like an attack of horny dragons thowing huge boulders and toppling buildings – sheer terror. Zip Code Review sounds like Sonic Youth. O.A.C.’s “H.M.DNA (nature mix)” is probably the strangest/coolest thing I’ve ever heard – blistering hardcore with the sounds of birds twitting in nature, jets flying overhead. What is the message here? Cool surf rock from the Won Wons. Utopia’s songs are mainly drumsticks hitting together as to call out a song (but with no song), then strange burbling keyboards and riffs. Silly little numbers. The Ultra Fuckers songs are the same as are on the Retail Karaokei EP. Man, I didn’t need to buy that one then (I guess this means that they’ve recycled these songs at least three times, as they also appear on Old Warrior Worship)!! A funny hardcore song by the Surfers of Romantica, then bizarre novelty songs in English by the Rudy Schwartz Project like “Creation Science Polka” and “An Orange Is Nothing But A Juicy Pumpkin”. Sample lyric from the former: “Carbon dating makes us cringe, we’re the right wing lunatic fringe, Jesus died for our sins, creation science polka”. Silly and annoying.

Ultra Fuckers Beyond the Fuckless

Ultra Fuckers Beyond the Fuckless

Beyond the Fuckless CD, 2001, Central Scum – This must be a joke or something: despite having a listing of 13 tracks with typical Ultra Fucker names like “Bongo Roll”, “Holly Bible” and “Bandee Jump” (bungee jump), all that I can hear on this is Cambodian pop. Is this Dengue Fever?

This is what I wrote about it in 2002: “I got this at an Ultra Fuckers 10th Anniversary show by trading a Nina Hagen CD (Freud Euch, the German version of her 1995 release with Marky Ramone collaborating, a good one). ‘Beyond the Fuckless’ is a CD-R in a slipcase that comes with a cool little sticker. Wild band music, it almost sounds like 70s music or early Stooges. Lots of drums and grunting and lurid guitar. Some songs end abruptly. Nice guitar work here. Better than listening to Deep Purple!”

プッチウフ P'tit U-fu, Dance with me, Rock with you: EP CD

プッチウフ P’tit U-fu, Dance with me, Rock with you: EP CD

Petit U-fu, Dance with me, Rock with you: EP CD, 2000, Central Scum – This is an Ultra Fuckers spinoff called Petit U-fu (petit Ultra Fuckers) that consists of Kawai Kazuki Langley on “Vocal and Vox + Muff) and a blond-headed goofy-looking Mob Norio on ASR-X Pro and Vocal. Mob Norio is now well-known for having won the famous Akutagawa literary prize in 2004 for the book Introduction to Nursing Care (介護入門 Kaigo nyu-mon). While the CD has nine tracks, only the even-numbered tracks (1, 3, 5, 7 and 9) are real songs, tracks 2, 4, 6 and 8 are all only a few seconds long. Opening track “Dance With Me, Rock With you” is primitive guitar, fast beats, a bit of singing, and plenty of laughing, babbling and goofing around. “約束/(Can’t Finish your) Promise” is almost a normal rock song with real guitar chords, babbling “singing”, and idiotic drumming. “うそ/Don’t Tell A Lie” is even more of a real song, with someone (maybe Mob Norio) singing “うそ” as if this were a regular song. Nice. “点と線/Ambitious Bride” is keyboard and noise plinkings and plonkings with long periods of Merzbow-like noise and some quasi-singing (by the way, 点と線 does not mean “Ambitious Bride”, but “dots and lines”; it is also the name of a famous train mystery Points and Lines by Matsumoto Seicho). “Dance with me, Rock with you (karaoke)” is very similar to the opening track, but actually there’s nothing Karaoke about it.

Of the mini-tracks, track two, “Yo! Petti!”, is four seconds of squeaky guitar chords; track four, “& Boys pt. 1″ is four seconds of beep-beep-beep-beeeeeep” of keyboard; track six, “& Boys pt.2″, is nearly the same as track four and also runs for four seconds; track 8, “& Boys pt.3″ sort of combines all of the elements of the previous four-second songs into a six-second song of its own.

Ultra Fuckers Retail Karaokei EP

Ultra Fuckers Retail Karaokei EP

Retail Karaokei EP, 1994-97 Compilation Tracks Colletions CD, 2000, Lost Frog Productions – Track 1 starts off with some old Japanese movie soundtrack music, then goes into strange death metal that doesn’t sound one bit like the Ultra Fuckers, until the last three seconds when you hear an e’chi Kawai voice come in. A remix? The second track is fake singing over weird guitar plucking. The third track is whistling, it sounds like the Pixies song “Silver”. The fourth track is one minute of monitor feedback. The last track is the band chatting, with part of the conversation looped and manipulated. Nice sound stuff.

This is what I wrote about it in 2002: “Strange produced noise and screwing around. A remix album? Moody music that they could never lay live with a guitarist and drummer and Kawai yelling his head off. Mixed and matched. Dislocated voices, buzzing, feedback, strangeness. Funny track seven with manipulated crowd sounds. Still the best (or most representative of their live show) Ultra Fuckers songs are on compliations like Land of the Rising Noise (Charnel) and Tribute To Nippon (UMMO).” I think there’s a mistake here – there are only five songs on this recording!

Bring My Eye, cassette tape, 1996, Central Scum – A split 20-minute tape the Ultra Fuckers did with an American band called Prehensile Monkey Tailed Skink (perhaps?) that I know nothing about. Ten minutes for each band. I bought this one from Kawai on the stairway to Bears after they played a show there. It is funny and interesting, flattened-out lo-fi noise and sound and distorted ET vocals. The classic-riff-that-a-two-year-old-could-have-come-up-with from the Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is stolen, not for the first time I bet. Funny, wacky, strange, unnatural sounds, not quite like their live performances. PMTS are not too bad either. They have funny “lyrics”, like a news announcer saying “ladies and gentlemen, this just in – Richard Nixon is apparently innocent! ” Are they a ’90s scum version of the Monks? Or are they King Missile? At the end of the song they get snooty and give out their thanks (sounding more like “fuck you very much” than “thank you very much”) to the tune of music. Maybe this is old, but I haven’t heard it before so I will consider it original just this one time.

Photos!

Take on Maria

Take on Maria

My mouse ate my acid

My mouse ate my acid

The prince of the land of the rising sun

The prince of the land of the rising sun

I want my bb gun

I want my bb gun

Bandee Jump

Bandee Jump

Hyper Dimension

Hyper Dimension

Ultra Fuckers Live!

Here are my reviews of the concerts I saw in Japan with Ultra Fuckers on the bill:

April 18th , 2003 – Namba Bears: Half Japanese, Ultra Fuckers, and TEEM. My last night at Bears before the imminent move to Singapore in May. Went downtown early and bought 4 CDs at Alchemy Records: the new Masonna, Space Machine, and Acid Mothers Temple and Sekiri CDs. Talked to Masonna a bit, seems like he only sold one of my zines to Philhomena, whom I had told by email that they were available there. They aren’t displayed, I don’t see how he will ever sell any more. Got to Bears early so I could interview Jeff Bell and Nana like we’d been talking about for ages, but the interview didn’t happen because sound checks were taking place. Watched Half Japanese sound check, talked a bit to some of the guys. Later gave Jad Fair directions how to get to Den Den Town. Went for beers, and then Jeff and Nana and I finally did the interview backstage at Bears, Kawai from Ultra Fuckers sat in on it too. Got my seat near the front so I could do some filming – good thing too, it was warming up to be a full crowd. Ultra Fuckers were up first. Kawai came out and asked everybody to stand up, because although having people sitting on the floor for a punk show is lame it is what people at Bears always do anywya. The band blasted away at a few funky numbers, some new things that were silly and spare. Kawai apologized for sounding so bad, that they didn’t know their new songs so well. He spoke in English mostly through the set, but broke into Japanese when he wanted to make a point. Many foreigners in the crowd heckling him back in English, so the usual effect he has of babbling in English to a Japanese audience that doesn’t understand him was lost somewhat. “Do you like Shiina Ringo?” Cool toy guitar noise, funny air thump thump thump. Toward the end of the show he asked “Do you know the King of Hearts?” We said “no, we don’t know the king of hearts,” and he explained something about Gundam and anime, or something. Very funny. Rousing final number with the Butthole Surfers reprise, then he jumps from the stepladder and rolls through the air, landing on his shoulder. He takes a long time to get up, and looks like he’s in terrible pain. The band picks up and walks offstage. TEEM are up next. Nana starts it off with his bass blompings, Yamamoto taking it easy with some simple guitar themes, China keeping it going on drums, and Jeff Bell standing around wondering what to do – turn on his pocket radio, manipulate it with an old electric toothbrush, or twang away on his Vietnamese Jews harp. Nana’s bass is the most fluid element to it all, it is burbling like a mountain stream, and China’s slick drums keep it all together. Yamamoto is having a hard time picking up on a theme, and Jeff doesn’t have much to say. Actually, his mic doesn’t seem to be working very well either and we can’t quite make out what he’s saying. Maybe he meant it to be that way! Jeff is a pretty mellow guy. On the other hand, Yamamoto’s mic works and has a ferocious echo, but he doesn’t barely use it. This band is definitely not as fierce as they were the last time I saw them when they snarled “we are TEEM!” and “eat my pussies.” After a while Yamamoto walked offstage toward the sound deck, came back and stopped the jazz fusion experiment, then picked up with some funky numbers that had some steam to them, fierce punching and nutty energy. This was the band we had come to see!! From the backstage door I could see the happy faces of the Half Japanese guitarist poking his head in to see what was going on. After a few more minutes of loud, aggressive sounds, the band finished up and walked offstage. After some time to mellow out and get ready for the headliners, it was time for Half Japanese. The band came onstage, set up the equipment a bit, and launched into the first song – the guitarist pounding away on a mini-drumkit, the drummer banging away, and Jason Willett looking really cool puffing away at slim hand-rolled cigarettes and working strange electronic pads (he looks kind of like Gary Sinise, doesn’t he?). Jad went nuts singing strange ditties. They played three numbers, experimenting with the equipment, before they stopped it all and said they’d take a break to solve a few equipment problems. Okay. We sat back and waited, then promptly it picked up again. Lots of cool funky sounds and a great pulse, the song that stuck out the most for me was the Monster Island song and all the different monster roars – King Kong, Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera – R-RRROOOAHRRRR!!!!! Another song about Frankenstein, another song about this and that and, well I should really watch the video to refresh my memory. The band looked like it was having a lot of fun and there was lots of goofy grins back and forth between Jason and the drummer. Jad worked with a little microphone he held in his fist that made his voice sound extra sharp and freaky. After a while the guitarist walked off and we didn’t see him for a while. Later on the band took a short break, then came back in full rock and roll gear – the guitarist banging away at the sweet beautiful guitar sounds, Jason on a slinky bass, and the drummer still working away. Some songs were just Jad and the drummer, Jad sang two Calvin Johnston songs including “Caspar”, and then he did a babble-solo on the city of Chicago. Chris from Chicago was standing next to me. I don’t know how he felt about it, but Bob from Minnesota behind me got brave enough to heckle at that point. Don back in the middle of the room began to mosh around and went a little crazy – I worried a bit for the petite damsels crowding the front because, well, Don is a big, sweaty guy! The tape ran out in my camera, which meant that the band had been playing for over an hour, and I could just enjoy the show without bothering to film it. Jad did great versions of “Red Dress,” proving he wasn’t bothered by Bob’s heckling, and lots of great, tight, fast, loud, guitar rock numbers that were really solid. Everyone in the audience loved every song the band played and played and played. I can’t believe I have seen a band play a ninety minute set at Bears, where twenty minute sets are the norm (on a five band night anyway). The three bands tonight gave us one hell of a ride. Half Japanese finished up, went off, the lights came up and the recorded music came up, but they were back immediately for an encore with an incredible version of “Angel.” Amazing stuff!! I wish I had gotten that on video! After the show we hung around and Jad came out and talked to everybody. I gave him copies of my zine, took a pic with him, chatted about this and that. Jad signed books, CDs, and a copy of “The Band That Would Be King.” The guitarist and drummer came out too and talked to Don and Susan about Texas. We had a hard time saying goodbye and getting out the door to catch our last trains, I wish I could have stayed out late and partied with the bands afterwards, but it was not to be. I talked to Jeff Bell and found out that Kawai had actually broken his collar bone in that jump at the end of the Ultra Fuckers and was taken away to hospital. In an ambulance? Not sure. Thanks to Don and Susan and Bob and Chris and Philhomena and everyone else for coming out!

February 15th , 2003 – Tocca a Te: KTO’s Kansai Bangladesh Charity Concert 6 (KB*CC 6), featuring Dave Wesson, Ossan Alpha, Love Or Die, Ultra Fuckers, Saboten Kyodai, Go Kitty, Tripod Jimmy, and Love Beach. Got to Tocca a Te early and watched sound checks, ate, drank, hung out. I brought 20 kilos of books and magazines and tapes for people to take home free and was glad to dump it on a table under a “TAKE FREE” sign. Lots of little kids milling about and playing, including a chubby little one-year-old with a mohican! After some schedule and sound check confusion, Jeff Lee (formerly of Roy Tan) and his new outfit Ossan Alpha were ready to go on. At the last minute Dave Wesson walked in the door, he went on first instead. Can’t blame a guy for arriving late – his wife had just had a baby boy on Monday! Great acoustic finger picking with harmonica and vocals, his covers of Grateful Dead and Dylan songs were great and set the right tone to start the evening. After him were Ossan Alpha, a great stomping shredding dirty guitar and drum band. Fun howling tunes from a dynamo of energy, the strings on Jeff’s guitar were shredded after. Funny trio cover “Ja Ja Ja,” righteous original songs like “Snake Farm” were great too (it reminded me of “Whole Lotta Rosie” somehow), and a little bit of “Let There Be Rock”. Much better than the Doors with Ian Astbury singing any day! Jeff’s sweet 18 month old daughter Eliza was watching with her mom and seemed enthralled, so were the other kids who had come with their mommies and daddies. Priceless. Between sets, DJs like KTO’s Dominic and Aidan played album tracks, among them the peerless Gil Scot Heron classic “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Saboten Kyodai were next playing furious rock covers. A tight band with lots of onstage energy, the tall lead singer also wore a cowboy hat. Stylish!! I danced my ass off to their set and I think the band was amused. I yelled out “aniki” to them. When I met them after the set they were extra friendly to me as we danced around to the bands. I love making friends that way at shows. Love Or Die followed with their dirty screaming short freakout songs. Love Or Die have been scheduled to play KBCC events before, but always had to cancel for one reason or other. Finally our chance to see the legends, playing again after being on hiatus for five years! Tight fasty nasty rock just the way we like it. The kids loved it too, and mohican-boy was almost constantly being filmed by the squad of Osaka underground documentarians and archivists (myself included). Ultra Fuckers followed with their trademarked scum noise crap. Kawai seems to have a new vocal effect box since he was making his vocals sound particularly gnarly. No toy guitar to play or ladder to jump off of, but the “BB Gun song,” “Prince of the Rising Sun,” and a “we hate love, we hate marriage, we love money” rap similar to the one from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie (?!). Plenty of English mumbling too! After Ultra Fuckers, Go Kitty launched into their set of short, fast, pop songs. Three very cute young girls playing the traditional instruments and singing sweet songs. They said a polite “thank you” after each song, we all said “you’re welcome.” Apparently they also did a Beach Boys cover. Next up were Tripod Jimmy trying out their new drummer for his first live shows. The guy lives in Shiga!! Came a long way to play without pay. Plenty of fast tight stompin’ songs from their new CD, plus a fun “Automated System.” What a great band. Last up was the wildly unpredictable Love Beach. They started their set near 1:00 (late!) by climbing onstage, casually, one by one, and tuned up. The lead singer leaned on the mic stand, lit up a cigarette, and babbled freeform garbage to the sounds of “the Song Remains The Same” and other songs coming from the DJs as the other guys sound checked and got ready. Finally they started up – wanky distorted guitar/solos over pulsing snakey bass and drum lines. The lead singer went into some kind of psychotic trance and glared at the audience, making eye contact and screaming. I got too close with a video camera and he made a grab for it. ET finger touches. Nutty. Beats thrown in too. Finished the set with a great cover of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Seven bands, whew! Only complaint was that nobody tried a Black Sabbath cover, but I’m sure some day a KBCC band will do just that. After Love Beach finished, the DJs played a while, after which Dave Wesson came back to sing a few more Dylan songs. “(Take Me Home) Country Roads” failed to please the crowd, but a nice version of “Blackbird” was touching. Attempts to play “Desperado,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Out Of The Black, Into The Blue” failed, but “Lay Lady Lay” was fun, especially with guest vocalists like Shane and Don, who sang the Dylan classic the Ministry way. Things mellowed, the club shut down bit by bit, and we drank until 5 in the morning. Thanks to Torsten and Mami (congratulations on their engagement!), Don and Sue, Grant and friend, Steve, Philomena and Masayuki, Mitch, and all the others who showed up, not to mention the great bands that volunteered their time to the charity. Bravo.

June 16th, 2002 , Namba Bears: Ultra Fuckers , I Destroyed, Junk Headd, Doddodo and TEEM . Another perfect night at Bears. Ultra Fuckers play first this time, working through several songs, Kawai brings out the famous toy guitar out for two long-ish numbers, and they get off the stage. No jumping off the folding ladder, which is onstage but never used. Kawai asks the audience if they like “UFO or Die” and I yell out “NO!!” My request for the “BB Gun Song” is denied – rats! They get off and I Destroyed set up. While they are pulling out racks of keyboards and a huge Yamaha drum, some strange electro mix DJ weirdo music plays – twisted samples and bizarre sounds. I assume this is Junk Headd , although I have been taught never to assume. Oh, what the hell, just this once. Soon the electro dies down and a drone appears – this is I Destroyed. They come and space out, chanting like Buddhist monks, the dreadlocked-bearded lead singer/keyboardist comes out into the audience to groove, then the rest of the band explodes into noise. More drone, then the band explodes again, and a long jam starts. They work the bass, pound the drums, ring in digital beats, groove out with funky beats and yells, spacey effects, it was a mess. A drummer, a percussionist, drum, bass, keyboards, three of them doing vocals at various times, yeesh. They went on for over 50 minutes, which is pretty rare at Bears. A wild, fun, exciting band, that seems to incorporate moments from the entire Boredoms career, particularly Super Roots 5 and Vision Creation New Sun. Hey, if you can’t see the Boredoms play anymore, this and the Surfers of Romantica must be the next best thing. A surprise for most people in the audience too, who had never heard of them. Last up was fun monster TEEM , with their brash, loud orgy of huge supergroup sounds. Yamamoto Seiichi of the Boredoms (and about twenty other bands) on guitar; Nana of VooDooBrooYoo, Labcry, the Futures, Star Star and Star, and Grind Orchestra on bass; China of Music Start Against Young Assault, Jesus Fever, Rovo, Rashinban, and Shonen Knife on drums; and Canadian Jeff Bell of Empty Orchestra and Live Evil on vocals. Bombastic and near over-the top, the band assaulted the small room and the hundred people there with huge Fuji Rock Fest-level sounds and hyperkinetic energy as they tore through near-unrecognizable covers of songs by Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, White Zombie, and the Rollins Band as done by mid-career Butthole Surfers. At least that is what it sounded like to me. Live music and fun probably doesn’t get much better than this. Thanks to Chris and Thom and Anna and Philomena for coming out.

February 11th, 2002 at Namba Bears : Ultra Fuckers , the Surfers of Romantica , Vita Sexualis and Solmania. Scum Nite 10 and the Ultra Fuckers 10th anniversary (that’s what it says on the bill, but it also says that UxFx are from Texas on the bill). Ultra Fuckers were up first and sang their “I Hate Winter” and “Anti-Marriage Song,” both new apparently, and “Shiina Ringo Song” and “Silent Song.” Great stuff. No “Human Cannonball” or “Prince of the Land of the Rising Sun.” What a band. Kawaii kept his bag on his head for the whole show this time, playing shirtless and jumping around, drummer and guitarist filling in around the edges. I requested “B.B. Gun Song” and they played it!!! After the show I bought a few CDs and also got the limited editon (of two!!!) “Musical Mayhem” box set with 4 tapes, got it signed too. Glad to finally have a limited edition something of personal value to myself. Who cares about the limited edition Swatch anyway? Swapped a Nina Hagen CD (“Freud Euch”, with Dee Dee Ramone) with Kawaii for the “Beyond the Fuckless” CD so I saved 1000 yen there. That always feels pretty good. At this point we also discovered the free sochu that they had on the counter – yum. The Surfers of Romantica came out next – a drummer, guitarist, bass player, and vocalist. Guitarist wearing a black body suit like a Mexican wrestler, they jumped around and screamed. The guitarist had troubles with his pedals, he ripped off his mask and picked up a mic, and the band was a drummer and bass player making huge slabs of bad noise. The shirtless lead singer wearing the funny tights looks like he’s over fifty!! This is a completely different band than the one I saw last time . Next were Vita Sexualis, a goth rock band that owes a debt to the Velvet Underground. Playing pop songs for a while as the sunglass-wearing dandy lead singer dangled around the mic stand. Just okay, wonder if they’ll be better another time. Last up were Solmania . I’m glad I got a chance to see this group again from up close – one guy playing a Rickenbocker (?) and another guy playing a custom guitar with all sorts of strange things stuck to it. The floor was littered with pedals that they were always banging or bending down to adjust. Crazy noise. Turned out great on video too! Hung out with the musicians briefly afterwards and made some friends and finished off the sochu – feeling pretty good at this point. Roco from Helicoid 0222MB was there too, I joked with her that I liked her Gara Gara Hebi project much better than Helicoid 0222MB , I don’t think she was very happy I said that. Thanks to Matt and Thom and Jeff, Johnny and Amy (?) from Hamilton who I met there. No I just wonder who that angry-looking anti-social guy was.

July 29th, 2001 at Namba Bears : Ultra Fuckers , Bringer Of War, GaraGara Hebi , and Aska Temple. Scum Nite at Bears. The Ultra Fuckers were up first. Mellowing out a bit or what, with a kick-ass new drummer and bass/keyboardist, they were more of a blend of the Doors and a hardcore band than their weird usual selves. Even Kawai gave up the bag-over-the-head and kneepads thing. Everyone knows what he looks like now anyway. Kicking ass in more ways than one, their crunchy freaky numbers had real oomph to them. Starting off with their cool track from the UMMO Records Tribute To Japan compilation, they went into nuggets like “the Shiina Ringo Song,” and by special audience request also “B.B. Gun Song.” with Kawai diving out into the audience. I got it all on video too. Surprisingly, they now have a blues number in their set. Cool. Bringers of War followed with their Prong meets Deep Purple/E.L.P. insanity. A little heavy on the cheezy keyboards, their one long jam was still tight as hell in the rhythm section, particularly that incredible bass player! GaraGara Hebi were the surprise of the evening. Three women in wide skirts playing accordion, pianica (there’s that pianica again!), and guitar. Weird funky harmonics from a great sweet voice, singing funny nothing lyrics like “my favorite summer” over and over again. Switching instruments around, picking up the drums, a programmed disco beat, skull-shaped maracas, and who knows what else. Very sweet fun. The guitar player seems to be a member of Hellacoid 0.222 MB, I wonder how many groups she is in. Last up was the mind-blowing Aska Temple , playing with the lights off and the only light coming from the micro-biology film being shown against the strage. Their music can be best described as psychadelic feedback and was mind-poppingly unbelievable. I had a grin on my face from ear to ear for the whole set. Wonderful. Went out drinking with the musicians after the gig, always fun, but the boys and the girls sat divided at different tables and I was at the girls table for some reason! Hellacoid girl started talking about making a band with me as a vocalist! Possible name: the Emperors. I’m game. Sounds cool, but I wonder if anything will come of it…

July 7, 2000 at Club Water in Namba: Kansai Bangladesh Charity Concert 3 (KB*CC III) with Roi-Tan, C love R, Haco, UltraFuckers , Daimyo Gyoretsu – The third Kansai Bangladesh Charity Concert (KB*CC III) and perhaps the least attended gig… also the most radical and experimental, exciting nevertheless since it offered bands that had never played at the event before, as well as a rare appearance of the legendary Daimyo Groretsu. I got there after ROITAN ‘s set, but managed to catch all of C love R, a girl group that hit all of the marks of everyone’s image of what all Japanese girl bands must sound like. They were great, with lots of energy and likeable infectiousness and good stage presence, not to mention spunky songs. They had two tapes of their music for sale, 100 yen each (a steal), with two and four songs on them respectively. Haco was up next solo, playing her unique nutty operatic techno like a modern-day Yoko Ono. Unfortunately the crowd took a while to warm up to her act, with the people who talked through the set making more sound than she was at point; she rallied forth near the end with one of her strong songs, and then a lot of loud strumming on her electric mandolin (?), so that people were feeling good enough at the end of her set that they called for an encore which she graciously gave us. Permanent Voltage were on the bill, but couldn’t make it, so following Haco were the Ultra Fuckers , another Bears band just like Haco: they jumped into a set that sounded more hardcore than they ever had before. No unusual stage antics except for the obligatory muttering in English (“do you like Shiina Ringo?”), the foreign language irony/intimidation effect that works on Japanese audiences but was lost on the gaijin crowd due to the fact that many people were English-speaking anyway. They played the “BB Gun Song” and Kawai pulled out his trademark toy guitar, but didn’t show it off for more than a minute or two. Final song was an adapted cover of the Butthole Surfers’ “Human Cannonball”, and one encore was granted us after all. A further “AC/DC encore” was refused, though, unfortunately. Last up were Daimyo Gyoretsu , the Bar Noise band and motley crew of strangers who grunt and groan, masked and costumed. Full throat, guitar and drum madness going on and on as people cavorted on the stage colliding with each other, tripping over the guitar pedals, smog machine, wacky percussion and gongs, a skateboard with sharp deer horns on it, and who knows what else. A chainsaw trick didn’t work, but it didn’t matter because the insane sound that was going on was more than enough to make anyone go utterly loopy. Is this what Mr. Bungle and Slipknot and Insane Clown Posse are all about? Happily, I had the honor of being able to take part in this momentous occasion: I wrapped myself up in a sumo mawashi loincloth, put a pair of my wife’s panty-hose (with my socks stuffed into the toes) on my head, they bounced around as I did and the three of us had a lot of fun. I don’t know how it looked, and I am unsure of my actual musical contribution. I guess I’ll have to check out the video of the nite…

April 22, 2000 at Namba Bears: the Ultra Fuckers,NASCA Car, the Surfers of Romantica – My third time seeing the Ultra Fuckers was probably the best (last gig their set was plagued with technical problems), with bagged head, knee-pad wearing toy-sword slinging frontman Kawai Kazui wandering into the audience and yelling at them in English, handing out a b.b. gun and begging an audience member to shoot him. “This is a song about a b.b. gun. It is called b.b. gun song.” He also said “this is a silent song” to introduce a solo number. The “highlight” of an Ultra Fuckers show is always when Kawai pulls out the toy guitar with the programmed beats and jams along. Musically, these guys are probably the worst band in Japan, but the falling-apart feeling of their music is probably what they want and what makes them different. Self-conscious hardcore scum deconstruction. NASCA Car were up next, starting off slowly with distorted noise before picking up some drums, then programmed insanity and tight rapping. A theremin was also present, although it was quite low in the mix and konked out a few times. One good thing the NASCA Cars did was ask the audience to stand up – the problem with shows at bears Bears is that the audience seat themselves on the floor, forcing the late arrivals standing in the back to crowd together or stand on tip-toes. The Surfers of Romantica were up last and blew the place apart with their long loud long jam. Starting off with a DJ and a bongo drummer, the other members slowly drifted in and began piling on the instruments and the noise on top of each other taking the jam higher and higher until the song had to change – it changed once, and changed again, and again, all of the members in glorious sync with each other. Just after the first climax, the crowd surged and for a short while there was a small mosh pit happening in Bears, a club no bigger than a 3-car garage. Somehow it all reminded me of the Boredoms and what they were doing on Super Roots 5, great to see it live! After the show the NASCA Cars and Kawai were selling t-shirts – the Ultra Fuckers tee was an obnoxious small-sized thing with “Ultra Fuckers” on it and a butt-shot of a horny naked anime teen. I thought about buying one, but unfortunately I don’t know anyone brave enough to actually wear it in public.

February 24, 2000 at Fandango in Juso: Star Star Star, Helicoid 0222MB, Communication Brain Buster , Ultra Fuckers – Star Star Star have local superstar Nana on vocals with a guitarist and a drummer. Long, trippy songs that boom and yell, the jam twists and turns and defies description. Wow! That crazy guitarist, how did he produce so much noise with his guitar as he flailed around on his back? Helicoid have street cred, but they aren’t very interesting to listen to. They produce rock and psychadelia that is good enough, just not too adventurous or even very adept. Nice stage outfits, though. Communication Brain Buster remind me of a bunch of serious music school students – they rip away at their instruments with technical perfection that is exciting and frantic, but somehow soulless. Still get wow points. Ultra Fuckers’ set was marred with technical difficulties, to the point where even these famous deconstructionists appeared uncomfortable with the way that things were turning out. Considered by some a Bears band, Fandango may have been too big for them. I wonder if they will ever play there again.

August 20th, 1999 at Namba Bears: Ultra Fuckers, Jahangir, Jet Liners, We Are The World – We are the World did cool pop, Jet Liners did corny hardcore, and Ultra Fuckers did zombie spazz – it is their calculated ambition to be known as the worst band in Japan, but in fact they are one of the best… and one of the strangest. Confrontational lead singer Kawaii came out in knee-pads and with a bag over his head, talked English to the audience, and was generally incomprehensible in his language and his antics. Biggest surprise of the evening came from Jahangir , two guys playing ancient electronic equipment and singing nasty, edgy lyrics. They were as fun to watch as they were to listen to. Namba Bears rules.

About My big bad Ultra Fuckers page

I made this page as a tribute to Ultra Fuckers after I realised that there is a dearth of information about the band out there and that, since I own probably all of their recorded material, I should do something about sharing this information.

If you wish to write to me with your comments and questions, please drop me a line at peter at hoflich dot com.

You may also wish to check out:

My big bad Boris page
My big bad Spitz page

Sunday, rainy Sunday

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Yes, it’s a boring, rainy Sunday.  Naoko and Zen are in Japan, so all I’m doing is updating my blog and writing stuff for my publication.

So, even if Zen and Naoko were here, I doubt that there would be a softball practice today – the whole field is probably completely waterlogged.

Check out this before-and-after view:

Regular view from my window...

Regular view from my window...

... and the totally incredibly bloody rainy view from my window.

... and the totally incredibly bloody rainy view from my window.

Boris releases four CDs this year (so far)!

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Boris has released four discs this year: they put out Klatter (February 23rd), New Album (March 16th), and on May 24th they put out both Heavy Rocks (2011) and Attention Please. I guess they are making up for a relatively quiet three years – since the Smile madness of 2008, they’ve mainly only released and co-released singles, as well as an EP with Ian Ashbury of the Cult. But if you take away all of the covers on these four albums (one) and re-recordings of older songs (four), or the doubling of songs across two releases (seven songs appear twice across three of these discs), it’s more like 23 songs instead of the 35 that are listed on these four releases. Yes, very confusing. But that’s Boris.

I got Boris Heavy Rocks (the 2011 version – there is also a 2002 release with different songs that is also called Heavy Rocks) and Attention Please yesterday, mail order from US label Sargent House. It wasn’t easy, because Singapore is one of only a handful of countries their shipping agent doesn’t sell to (because of online fraud!!!), making them different from Amazon and Rise Above Records and Orange Amps and all of the other companies that ship to Singapore without qualm, but whatever. Here are some pics of the deal.

Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please came with a t-shirt

Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please came with a t-shirt

Comparison: Heavy Rocks 2002 (left) and Heavy Rocks 2011 (right)

Comparison: Heavy Rocks 2002 (left) and Heavy Rocks 2011 (right)

For a full review of these releases, please see My Big Bad Boris Page.

Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard of Ozz 30th anniversary box set

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Yee-ha, my box set finally came on May 30th, which I guess was the first day of release. I had it delivered to my office, like I always do (never know if the delivery will arrive at home when nobody’s around, then you have to go pick up your packages yourself). This time my plan backfired because I had plans to work from home on the 30th and 31st! No matter, though, June 1st I was in the office early, fetishising over the box, the two LPs, the three CDs, the DVD, the 100 page book full of photos (no essay… thank you!). Oh, yeah, and the replica of Ozzy’s cross, inset into red velvet!

For some reason, the set was delivered in a box that says “Bob Dylan Pack Shipper” on it. Weird.

OOBX

OOBX

The music:

The CDs, of course, sound great. These were among the first recordings I ever owned (I bought them on cassette tape with birthday money and Christmas money in 1982 and 1983, I think, when I was 13 years old). They come with many extras – the remastered “Blizzard of Ozz” CD contains the poppy “You Looking At Me, Looking At You”, the B-side of “Crazy Train”, and a “stripped” version of “Goodbye To Romance”, the first song that the two wrote together (it is about Ozzy saying goodbye to Black Sabbath, the only band he had ever known up till that point), that is only Ozzy’s voice and Randy’s guitar. There is also a bit of a Randy Rhoads solo that has not seen the light of day until now called “RR”. “Diary of a Madman” doesn’t contain any extra songs, but there’s a great CD of live music from the “Blizzard of Ozz” tour that contains “I Don’t Know”, “Crazy Train”, “Believer”, “Mr Crowley”, “Flying High Again”, “Revelation (Mother Earth)”, “Steal Away (The Night)” with a Tommy Aldridge drum solo, “Suicide Solution” with a short Randy Rhoads solo, and then shortened versions of three Black Sabbath songs – “Iron Man”, “Children Of The Grave”, and “Paranoid.”

The songs all sound great, and I can still sing along with most of them. What probably astounds me the most is the outro part on “Tonight”, which just goes on and on for about a minute, Randy Rhoads really just wailing and wailing away. The guitar playing is fantastic, but then again, so is the songwriting, the lyrics, the bass, the drums. It’s a whole package. There’s not one ounce of filler on either album.

One song that was left off of set was “You Said It All” from the Mr Crowley Live EP. It’s a decent song that I remember hearing live on 104 CHUM-FM around the time it was released. No idea why it was left off. Apparently the band recorded it in haste while on the road – it sounds live, but was more probably recorded during a soundcheck with crowd sounds filled in.

The video:

The DVD comes in two parts, a 42-minute documentary that shows recently-shot interviews with people like Ozzy, Bill Ward, Lemmy, Rob Halford, Steve Vai, Sharon Osbourne, and members of Ozzy’s current band, like bassist Blasco and drummer Tommy Clufeteos. Zakk Wylde shows up for a bit of interviewing, but there are also several segments where he recreates some of Roads’ solos (he must have played them millions of times while touring with Ozzy from 1988 to 2007). Then there’s a segment of one hour and 13 minutes that shows a few news reports and interview clippings, as well as parts of three live shows – February 5th 1981 at the Palladium (a fan shot them on 10 old Super 8 film cartridges, capturing parts of 11 songs – there are gaps in the footage where one reel finished and he shoves another one in, he also starts and stops a bit to economise footage, but usually gets most of the songs’ first halves); May 8th 1981 on the “After Hours” TV show (four songs and an interview bit); and January 7th 1982 in Albuquerque, New Mexico (concert intro and two songs).

The “Thirty Years After The Blizzard” has elements of the Osbournes, where you see Ozzy in his home, watching these concerts on his sofa, or chilling out at the mixing board with a producer. First, the documentary shows Ozzy talking about meeting Randy, rehearsing the first album in a Welsh country house, and writing songs. Whinges a bit about how bloated recording had become with Black Sabbath, complaining that they had to go all around the world to different recording studios because that was the fashion, finally freezing his balls off in Toronto to record Never Say Die in a studio that the Rolling Stones had used to mix a live album. Selling the album was difficult, but Tony Martell of Jet Records wanteed Ozzy. “Blizzard of Ozz” was released in the UK in September, 1980 and in the US in March 1981. Rob Halford: “Greatest title, just means so much.” Lemmy happy that he’s on his own now: “Before, it was Tony’s band.” Lots of the material that they prepared for the DVD didn’t make it into the video, but there are outtakes on the web, like this one with bassist for those tours, Rudy Sarzo.

Ozzy never got a good review when he was in Black Sabbath, Sharon explains, but with the new release the press were all on his side. Steve Vai says that Randy did things that no guitarist had ever done. Ozzy sits at board with producer Kevin Churko (who did “Black Rain” and “Scream”), who strips away all of the parts except Randy’s, Ozzy discovers something he’d never heard before at the end of one of the songs, that was released as “RR”.

Sharon: “The Ozzy/Motorhead tour was probably the dirtiest tour I’ve ever been on. The atmosphere was fantastic!” One of the first concerts was at the Palladium on February 5th, 1981. Cool clip of Rudy Sarzo’s bass in “Crazy Train”. Had two albnums in BIllboard charts at the same time. Picture of Ozzy’s butt as he’s getting his rabies shots. Pic of Ozzy getting arrested at Alamo, and there are quite a few overlaps with the “I Am Ozzy” autobiography. In jail with wife-murderer. Two pics of Ozzy in drag. “Get over it – there’s more to it than the dove, the bat and the Alamo.” The lifestyle was a bit too much for Randy. Steve Vai, “I’ve never played with a guitarist who has never at one point said ‘this is very Randy Rhoads-ish.’ You hear his name among the greatest that there ever were.”

The very rough Palladium footage, recorded February 5th 1981 shows “It’s Up To You”, with a boppin’ long-legged Rudy Sarzo, “Crazy Train”, “Believer”, “Mr Crowley”, “Flying High Again”, “Revelation (Mother Earth)”, “Steal Away The Night”, “No Bone Movies”, “Suicide Solution”, “Iron Man” and “Paranoid”. The band all split at the end, but Ozzy is the last to leave the stage – he really loves the audience and doesn’t want to go.

“After Hours”, recorded on May 8th 1981, the band plays “I Don’t Know” and “Suicide Solution”, then there’s an interview, where Ozzy comes off as a bit pissed off but totally unpretentious – just a regular guy who goes to regular bars, not a guy who hangs out in pretentious rock circles. “If I’m no longer me, then who else can I be?” Picks it up with more footage – “Mr Crowley” and “Crazy Train”. This live segment is the best, and you get really clear shots of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy, Rudy and drummer Tony Aldridge. An MTV News clip talks about the “Diary Of A Madman” tour and its $250,000 set, which was 30-foot high, the haunted mansion with the mechanical hand.

FInally, there are two clips from the January 7th 1982 show in Albuquerque that show the concert opening bit – as the band plays the outro music from the song “Diary Of A Madman”, we get a spotlight focus on a throne at the top of the steps on the medieval dungeon set. Fireworks go off, and Ozzy appears on the throne wth a big shiny cross, comes down the steps and the throne recedes; Ozzy marches around the stage with the cross, hands cross to stagehand and removes jacket, then Tommy Aldridge hits the drums and the band launches into “Over The Mountain. Ozzy is fat and wearing slippers. Camera is at stage left, so we see plenty of Rudy Sarzo, quite a lot of Ozzy, a bit of Tommy Aldridge, and even less of Randy Rhoads. Last song is “Mr Crowley.”

The book: This is one great book! It’s the same dimensions as an LP, and it has a big, black cover with the words Ozzy Osbourne on it in white. The book is full of photos, some of them “stressed” to look like they are covered in dried blood or something. There are skull and horn logos all over the place, but more than anything there are pics of Ozzy and Randy hanging out. Randy died when he was only 25, so every shot of him is looking young, handsome and very rock ‘n’ roll, not to mention dangerously armed with his big ole guitars (he was a little guy, only 170 cm, so they looked bigger on him than they would on, say, Zakk Wylde, who’s about 190 cm). Ozzy, six years his senior, is like a big brother – taller, fatter, coarser. The other members of the band pop up too, but almost never. The book is all about Ozzy and Randy, or Ozzy or Randy.

First up in the book is an alternate pose of Ozzy from Blizzard of Ozz album cover sessions, which appears in a distressed version on the box set cover. He’s not in a spooky attic, but in a studio, with a big cape, and we see his arm tattoos more. It’s a great shot. There’s another alternate shot, this time from the attic sessoins, then pics of Ozzy and Randy smiling and happy, an Ozzy Osbourne guitar pick, “Ozzy Rules” and “Ozzy Osbourne pins, great memorabilia. Shots of Ozzy and Randy practicing in the farmhouse in Wales. Randy’s ever-present cigarette pack. Ozzy rolling doobies backstage. Great onstage shots, Ozzy with his black shirt and white tassles. Pics with Lemmy, Philthy Animal Taylor of Motorhead and Tony Aldridge – everyone’s wearing white shoes or boots! At a festival in front of a sea of thousands of faces. A bare-chested Ozzy still without his dragon and skull tattoos. People raising “Ozzy is God” flags. Five pics of Ozzy biting the head off of a dove. Yes, there are feathers in his mouth, blood on his jeans (and his ugly 1980 blazer), and then Ozzy and Sharon posing while Ozzy has the decapitated dove in his mouth. Promotional “Blizzard of Ozz” material from the time, from the US, the UK and Japan.

Nice pics from the “Diary Of A Madman” cover shoot, where we get to see Ozzy and the kid from the album cover in different poses – and note that the kid is dressed up to look like a younger version of the Madman, tassles and all (you don’t see this on the actual album cover, as he’s mostly hidden behind a desk). With the onset of Diary Of A Madman tour, we get to see the dungeons and dragons stage gear (Ozzy in chain mail and codpiece and all), and the outlines of the dragon shoulder tattoo. At the end of the book there are song listings, lyrics, credits for all three discs and the bonus DVD. The “final word” of the book is a pic of a 1981-era Ozzy at the urinal, looking over his shoulder at the camera and sticking out his tongue, his pants around his knees and his big white buttt in plain view. Nice touch, madman.

There are three pictures of Ozzy’s touring band at the time, which included Randy, Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge (there’s one more hidden in the Diary Of A Madman sleeve). The back of the Blizzard Of Ozz LP shows Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake, the rhythm section for the first recording.

One complaint – there are no photo credits or descriptions, not even at the end of the book. Neil Young did this in his Archive Volume 1, and it was a good addition.

The LPs:

The LPs look okay, although the  colour on them is a bit blotchy and ill-defined; this will only get worse with age. Was this a cost-saving measure, or an attempt at authenticity? Either way, the LPs don’t look so great. They are gatefolds, but inside there’s nothing to see except the Ozzy Osbourne Cross/skull/Blizzard of Ozz motif for the first release, and a big old winged demonskull for the second release. They also provide holders for the four discs (two per gatefold), but I think that they could have found another way to display the discs without doing gatefold; even better if they had actually filled it with cool photos. Oh well, that’s what the book is for. The back of the Blizzard of Ozz LP shows a semi-bearded Ozzy looking somewhat Bruce Dickenson-ish, with Andy and Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley. The back of the Diary Of A Madman LP shows Ozzy in the dungeon of the drunken witch, resplendent in his white tassled jumpsuit! The record sleeve shows Ozy, Randy, Rudy and Tommy posed on the steps somewhere. On the back there are the lyrics, as well as some nonsense runic “wizard text.” I wonder what it says.

The poster:

The box comes with a cool two-sided poster. I want to put it on the door of my room.

The cross:

It’s a gold-coloured cross, fairly heavy. It has the word OZZY emblazoned on it, which may or may not be sacrilegious. It has a lot of scuffs and scratches. If it’s an exact replica of Ozzy’s cross, I guess it should have scuffs and scratches on it. I wonder how it will age, though, the gold looks like spray paint that could bubble and fleck.

The Ozzbox has arrived!

The Ozzbox has arrived!

The Blizzard of Ozz 30th anniversary edition

The Blizzard of Ozz 30th anniversary edition

Corner detail - dotted like Randy's guitar

Corner detail - dotted like Randy's guitar

A book and two LPs

A book and two LPs

The sign of Ozzy's cross

The sign of Ozzy's cross

Pure protection from the Blizzard of Ozz 30th anniversary edition

Pure protection from the Blizzard of Ozz 30th anniversary edition

Me 'n' my cross 'n'  my Ozzy poster (part 1)

Me 'n' my cross 'n' my Ozzy poster (part 1)

Me 'n' my cross 'n'  my Ozzy poster (part 2)

Me 'n' my cross 'n' my Ozzy poster (part 2)