Archive for the ‘Japan indie rock’ Category

My big bad Boris page

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

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 music, usually on CD or vinyl, 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

  • 2017
  • Boris Dear 03

    Boris Dear 04

    Boris Dear 05

    Boris Dear 06

    Boris Dear 07

    Boris Dear 02

    Boris Dear 01

    Boris Dear cover

    Dear, Boris full-length release, released July 14, 2017, Sargent House, Daymare records – rock – First of all, the LP is super beautiful!! It arrives in a brown envelope with the skeletal B on the cover (shades of Houses of the Holy!?!), then folds out into a gorgeous gold anatomical/artistic/skeletal/medical textbook assemblage of D-E-A-R across the exterior and the interior, the main album is on two translucent yellow vinyl discs. The additional tracks are in an anonymous black sleeve nearby. More on that later…

    The first song, “D.O.W.N – Domination of Waiting Noise-” has all the hallmarks of the old visual kei world of yesteryear. It seems a bit like a big bombastic Boris song – the huge drum intro, the zooming noise intro, the wordless jerky themes, the big anthemic ultra-choruses, the ultrasonic chord bridges, the male vocals glomming in like a sneak, with some weird timing items – all production all the time… but it works!!! It’s so amazing, and it just goes on and on! For six minutes!!! “DEADSONG” … starts after a typical “new Boris” track intro of atmospherics and glistening power chords, it gloms on with doom and whispers of pain… ultra slow percussion and moaning… to the point you definitely can’t count the beat/pace on anything… one of several points in the process of this wonderful album. Love!! The doominess howls & crescendoes dive into a key passage, then somehow thumps its way back to reality with great arches of bleak joy, and all sorts of stunning zipper noises… this song really has everything!! With “Absolutego”, the crusty old drone masterpiece, becomes a funky rock dick, thumping on with majesty and lots of outrageously beautiful beats. The bass thump is so sick at some parts!! A world of mastery here!! A fistful of catchy madness! The guitar solo needle-like cuts through anything – even a few screams and ten layers!!

    “Beyond” starts off with a bit of bare drumless atmospheric Boris-ness… some sparse Wata vocals… then some ultra-hugeness with all the stops pulled out for a few bars… and back to nothing… hurricane atmosphere!!! And… then the male voices come in to save the day, with lots of great harmonic nuances!! Drama!!! Big & big forever!! This all leads into “Kagero” with some big rock sounds chording out an intro, then a buzzing sound threnody of sorts… a wall of female-sounding wails. Wow!! There’s usually nothing like this around!! And it ends with such a BUZZZ!!! “Biotope” starts with a chord or two, then jams out as a big rock number, with super chords and riffs… wow!! Super spooky chorus vocals…Cool pulsing guitar chords and Wata chorus!! Beautiful, super-noise, hard, amazing!!

    “The Power” is wicked Cathedral-like doom tune that gloms with a beat that cannot be predicted… it’s just so slow and irregular. In other words – the best!! Sheer stunning sheets of intro feedback – a thing alive!! Broken shards of sound all mixed in with sheer insanity. It ends with several smashes, and a very long decrescendo…! “Memento Mori” starts with a cymbal and a smash – the chords are very similar to the last song, but now with a beautiful chorus of two male voices. And it just goes on and on – amazing. There’s a supercool laughing vocal part that merges with the subtle guitar part – WOW!!

    “Dystopia -Vanishing Point”, despite its pretentious name, is the coolest track on the set – it starts off with a bit of Lynchian fuzz and accordion noise, before jumping briefly into nuttiness – a prelude as we investigate love in all its splendour! A bit of a verse of singing, pained and mischievous (with whispers), and some compressed noise, vocals prolonged, until… the best Boris solo! Dramatic pause plus vaulted needle effect, just too amazing!! And then another layer on top of it, for those who are really trying!! And it goes on and on and on!!!! “Dear” zooms in and gets chord-y and then very very s-l–oo—-www… ssslllooowww!!! Try to count it off… you cannot!! What a blessing of this world!! Strange Bob-like groans, so amazing… Cymbals! LOVE!! Total insanity!!

    The bonus disc on translucent vinyl contains three songs – two seven-minute numbers on Side E, and one 9-minute number on Side F. “More” is a jangly, rocking number that kicks booty. “Evil Perspective” sounds like some sort of evil U2 song, the lyrics are a bit warbly… kind of off… thick, shoegazer-ish pop, great needly solo to end it off. “D.O.W.N – Domination of Waiting Noise- (full version)” is about three minutes longer than the album opener, with the extended part being just the doomy riff glomming on and on, covered slowly by Merzbow-like electronics.

    I hope this review makes sense – I’ve listened to the album 10 times since I got it a few weeks before writing this…

  • 2016
  • vinyl Boris/Merzbow's Gensho, sides B and D. Which is your favoUrite?

    Rico Smith Boris IMG_2246

    Boris with Merzbow Gensho

    Gensho, Boris & Merzbow full-length collaboration release, released March 18, 2016, Relapse records – rock, noise – This was Boris’ seventh collaboration with Merzbow, most of which are live revisits of previously-recorded Boris material. This time it was a bit different – a studio project, Boris recorded drumless versions of older material, going all the way back to 1998, while Merzbow’s material is offered on a separate disc. The idea is for you to mix your own levels of Merzbow on top of Boris (or vice versa). Since not everybody has two turntables and a cross-fader lying around the house, you might have to listen to (and review) them separately… or just listen to how this guy did it.

    The first Boris disc starts off with the awesome “Farewell”, grand and sweeping, with nearly two minutes of intro, then bigger chords than usual, given the lack of percussion. “Huge” is just that – HUGE! It goes on and on, and after five minutes the agonized vocals pick up. “Resonance” is a waste of four minutes of recording time. Just a series of clanging percussion. Horrible – I skip it every time. “Rainbow” is still a beautiful song, nearly all bass, with a bit of percussion.

    “Sometimes”, a My Bloody Valentine song that Boris has covered on a MBV tribute album, gets the drumless approach here. After one minute of weird intro, someone hits the shoegaze button and the assault begins. Interestingly, the original song is nearly drumless (I think there’s something there, but it might be a bass guitar rather than a bass drum – not sure). Boris’ cover version is also drumless, for that matter, but with much softer, whispier female vocals. It’s also much slower, and longer, with the Gensho version being the longest of them all, with also the deepest guitar growl, and has Takeshi on vocals instead of Wata. “Heavy Rain”, like “Sometimes”, also starts off with some weird noisy noise, before kicking it off with slow, sad chords. Nice. More noise at the end, perfectly bookmarking the tune. “Akuma No Uta” (in fact “Intro”, from the same album, which repeats at the beginning of “Akuma No Uta”), is all buzzy guitar groans, very long, very drawn out. “Akirame Flower” starts with poppy sounds and noises… kinda silly… then big noisy shoegaze. “Vomitself” is much shorter on this album (9:47) than it is on Amplifier Worship (16:57), but it is just as terrifying!

    As for the Merzbow tracks, “Planet Of The Cows” (matching “Farewell” and “Huge) is a collection of space chirps; “Goloka Pt. 1” (matching “Resonance”, “Rainbow” and “Sometimes”) is more of the same. “Goloka Pt. 2” (matching “Heavy Rain” and “Akuma no Uta”), intriguingly starts off to something similar to the Dark Side Of The Moon cash register, then gets into needly distorted noise, at one point nearly dying out, then roaring back, and even throwing in some Naido whelps (for fans of Twin Peaks: The Return). “Prelude to a Broken Arm” (matching “Akirame Flower” and “Vomitself”) has crinkly sheet metal noises and a high-pitched squeal – fun, fun, fun!!

    Musically, the track selection dances all over Boris’ discography – two from Amplifier, then one each from Pink, Noise, Akuma no Uta and Rainbow, and – bizarrely – the obscure Golden Dance Classics split, in addition to the MBV cover and the new “song” (ughhhh… “Resonance”.

    Vinyl Boris Pink IMG_3060

    Pink, Boris full-length re-release, with extra disc of outtakes, released July 8, 2016, Sargent House records – rock, etc – I’ve been a longtime Boris fan and already had Pink. But when I learned that this was coming, it was too good to pass up.

    I’m more a fan of the slow-as-death doomy early Boris, but Pink is something special – a super tight rock album that does not relent from start to finish. It’s all star great.

    The three LPs come in a heavy paper box that folds into itself in the back, not the greatest design as it’ll suffer quickly under wear and tear. The words “Boris” and “Pink” on the cover are actually cut out of the paper, with the pink inlay (lyrics sheet, credits, all in English) forming the colour of the letters themselves.

    You also get an MP3 download, which gives you all the songs. The original 11 songs from Pink are in its original running order, but the whole album is eight minutes longer because the final song, “Just Abandoned My-Self”, is eight minutes longer (just as it is on the vinyl version). Total running time is now 55:23.

    The vinyl running order, however, is different, and four of the 11 songs are longer than the CD version (and they are all piled to the end of the running order). “Farewell”, the arching droner that opens the CD is moved near the end (where, I suppose, it should be, although it doesn’t quite become the final track), and the LP instead opens with “Pink”, a blistering rocker that sets an entirely different tone. Two songs from the middle of the set, “Six, three times” and “Pseudo-Bread”, are also swapped around, with the latter more than doubling in length (to 10:08). “Pseudo-Bread” is followed by “My Machine”, which leaps from 2:01 (on the CD) to 11:14 on the vinyl. “Farewell” adds two minutes (to 9:32), and “Just Abandoned My-Self” adds eight minutes (to 18:14).

    Funnily enough, it seems that Pink has more than its fair share of instrumentals – not only does Pink have two, “Electric” and “My Machine” (and “Blackout” being a near-instrumental, with huge chords/guitar wails and a short set of whispered, near-discernible lyrics), while the new set of previously unreleased “forbidden songs” from the Pink sessions has two more, “non/sha/lant” and “Tiptoe”. Four in total for the whole set (or five if you count “Blackout”)… weird.

    Running through the songs on the MP3 download… “Farewell” is a huge, gloaming song that buzzes with deep, long chords, moaned vocals, and swooping crescendo choruses. Amazing. “Pink” is a howling, yowlping rocker that blisters and sears. It is pure rock pain! “Woman on the Screen” continues it with more of the same. They’re practically the same song!! “Nothing Special” punks it up like the Stooges with fuzzy speed and double male vocals. “Blackout” slows it right down to a doomy dirge that haunts its own chapel. Some whispered lyrics, briefly, then a blistering guitar solo to beat them all. And BIG! DRUMS!! “Electric” is a bouncy rock instrumental – the shortest song on the album at 1:45, a bit of a dud, really. “Pseudo-Bread” howls and stops with a driving beat, stupendous. “Afterburner” is a bit psychedelic, cool and groovy with a deep, vintage needle fuzz. “My Machine” is a sweet bit of tender dream mood. “Just Abandoned My-Self” is a fast fast rocker that zooms on and on and on and on and on and on!! The original version is already long (10:14), this cranks it up to 18:14!! Of course, the new eight minutes are pretty much just a loop of some sort of big awful guitar noise glomming on and on and on and on… It actually constantly amazes me that a song so long never drags or gets boring… it’s fun!!

    As for the new songs, “Your Name Part 2″ is a wistful, spooky little guitar number with psychedelic vocals and a hot build-up! Sounds like the perfect B-side!! “Heavy Rock Industry” starts with a big nasty crash of rock noise, a nasty drum break, then sheer badazz Boris!! A short number, runs out of steam quick. “SOFUN” rocks with great thundering avalanche noise, cha-cha-cha! Hard to get a bead on this one, it just rocks… and nothing else! But that’s not a BAD thing, is it!?!? “non/sha/lant” is an instrumental that kinda plonks and meanders around a lot. “Room Noise” is a bit of a pop song of sorts, kind of strange. It’s very sweet, and clearly didn’t belong on the album, but it’s nice nonetheless. “Talisman” is a spooky, scary doom rider with roaring vocals. Fun!! “N.F. Sorrow” is some sort of stoner rock drone with a driving beat. It’s amazing. That is, until it becomes prog rock… formless… ambling… but still good! It’s the longest of the “Forbidden Songs” at 7:51. “Are You Ready?” is built around a simple riff, but then becomes a big, nasty, raging beast. Thin, though, could be denser. But all good!! “Tiptoe”, like “My Machine”, is a slow instrumental with some beautiful soundtrack mood.

    Oddly, for a recent Boris album, Wata does not sing any songs on this album.

    In terms of the other lengthened songs (“Just Abandoned My-Self” described above):

    “Pseudo-Bread” (original length 4:29, extended to 10:08) contains the original song, glomming on to a massive dissolve that becomes a horriffic, pulsing electro-magnetic drone-thunder. Hellish, but in a good way.
    “My Machine” (original length 2:01, extended to 11:14) starts off like a totally different song with a few extra trills, then gets into the one we hear on the album, for two minutes, before going into an arching, sweeping solo that lasts for most of the rest of the song, before getting to some ambient cymbol noise, and a thematic return to the sounds of the beginning, combined with needly solo howl. Beautiful.
    “Farewell” (original length 7:33, extended to 9:32) is all of the original, with two minutes of “remix” of the previous sounds of the song, with a bit of low-tone crescendo, and a recycle of the opening sounds, with a final fade-out. Perhaps the least interesting of all the four “extended” songs on the vinyl re-release.

  • 2015
  • Intro to Boris’ 2015: Boris released three albums on the same day, May 2, 2015, on the angsanalsatan and New Noise Literacy labels. Hard to find and hardly conventional music, these are the albums that Boris fans are least likely to have, and probably also the least likely to want, as they’re mainly harsh or ambient noise.

    Boris Urban_Dance

    Urban Dance – “Un, deux, trois” starts off with extremely crunchy guitar textures and noise, droning bass… Not much to this song, really. “Surrender” has heavy bass and trickly guitar, Edge effects and Bono-ish vocals, the only real vocals on any of the three songs in this collection. The rest of the song is bright & cheerful pop, with a bit of white/ambient noise in the mix keeping it chewy. “Choreographer” lays on the thick and squeaky drumless guitar & bass sounds, while “Endless” drones and drones and drones… “Game of Death” is high pitches & abrasive sounds. More Merzbow than Boris, really. Eventually it starts to sound like a sandstorm. Say what!?!

    Boris Warpath

    Warpath – “Midgard Schlange” starts off with a slow workout of one of the sickest bass sounds I’ve ever heard. Wow! Then, after nearly seven minutes, a swirling, ambient drone rises up like some kind of night terror… amazing. “Behind The Owl” is more low-level, but the bass hums and throbs, the static buzzes in. “Dreamy Eyed Panjandrum” has a burning bass sound, on top of which are some more percussive sounds – clanging, bass drum, fast pulses. Laser guns in a Twin Peaks nightmare? “Voo-Vah” is just big, bad chords!!

    Boris Asia

    Asia – “Terra Cotta Warrior” starts it off with some very low level bass rumble/ambient noise, then some flying saucer sounds. The rumble increases, electricity, then shards of distortion. Then something that sounds like the drone intro for “Akuma No Uta”. In a later part (which feels like a totally different song), it has a bit of a Godflesh feel to it, with its echoed distorted guitar groans, but the light percussion doesn’t feel machine-like enough for Godflesh, so it’s something different yet again. “Ant Hill” is a bunch of bloops and blurps. It grows and grows until it’s almost funky. Almost. “Talkative Lord vs Silent Master” is static and windy howls. The storm builds up, then it ends.

  • 2014
  • Boris Noise

    Noise, Boris full-length, released June 17, 2014, Sargent House records and Daymare Recordings – rock,
    – After the ultra pop of Attention Please and New Album, Noise was a lot of fun. Straddling multiple musical styles, it starts off quietly with “Melody” with some driving instrumentation, then what seems like a bit of a grunge-pop classic sounds – big booming anthem vocals and deep guitars, spliced with poppy keyboard-y bits, and then deep heaviness, a bass-y bridge, and then some great flights. “Vanilla” is a busy, whiny song that is very vocal-heavy… until there’s a doomy break. Some kind of twisted pop song. Cool decrescendo at the end. “Ghost Of Romance” is a spooky, slow dirge that sounds like an epic Boris song, but is actually a bit popp-ish and shoegazer-ish as well. After the great intro, there’s a long vocal part that sounds kinda Radiohead-ish (!!!). Spooky tune!! “Heavy Rain” is a long (6:12), beautiful song by Wata that starts out with some sound effects and gentle guitar, before crashing like a tidal wave into some amazing doomy sounds. At one point there’s a full three-second pause before the song crashes on, now with scary organ!! Boris picked this song to re-do as a slightly longer version (7:50) on the drumless Gensho project with Merzbow, it sounds pretty cool there as well.”Taiyo no Baka” is one of the shortest songs on the album, and the only real pop song. Catchy, but not very interesting. “Angel”, at 18:42, is by far the longest song on the album (nearly double that of “Siesta”, which follows it), it begins with atmospheric guitar sounds, after nearly four minutes of post-rock build-up the vocals kick in, then build up to a wild crescendo that sounds like something from Alice In Chains (but grungier), an epic guitar solo that flies to the sky, grunges it up, then a bit of wild guitar style. The song ends with some chilled-out time, and a shoegazer crescendo of some sort. “Quicksilver” is a hard-hitting thrashy piece of hardcore crust metal glam prog… just a bit of everything as it speeds along at 90 miles an hour for nearly 10 minutes… before becoming pop punk… and then shoegazer… and finally doom!! Interesting… sorta… “Siesta” is a strange little instrumental that shuffles along with a bit of bluesy grime, slightly off-kilter and out-of-tune. Nice.

    The album artwork is great – all black, or shades of grey, the lyrics are in black raised ink on black-as-night card stock. Comes with a poster of the cover imagery – black cat on black chair… and also comes with a download card that also gives you six live songs from the world tour in 2011 (Montreal, Karlsruhe, Madrid, Vienna), most of which were from the trio of albums the band released that year (Heavy Rocks 2, Attention Please, New Album), but also “Statement” from Pink.

    Some versions of the album come with Extra Noise, four more songs. “Bit” is a bit of Cocteau Twins swirl and delay, the crashing rock buildup into big doom riffs… It slowly builds up in intensity, but not speed, with a nice high pitched drone balanced with a heavy bass stomp and steady drums smashing away. Very nice! “Kimi no Yukue” is a high voltage rock number that starts off run, with thinly-sung verses, a poppy chorus. “Yuushikai Revue” is also a pop song of sorts, but has a bit more fuller sound and moves around a lot more. It’s a lot of fun. “Discharge” sounds a bit like a Rush song from Power Windows… somehow. Fast-paced, rocky & poppy at the same time, it’s got a lot of… character.

  • 2013
  • Boris Praparat

    Präparat, Boris full-length, released March 6, 2013, Daymare Recordings – mix of styles – After the 2011 insanity of releasing three albums on the same day (Attention Please, Heavy Rocks & New Album), which included music that was largely heavily-produced and/or pop-based, the band took two years to come out with… this! Präparat, which means “medical preparations” in German and Japanese (many Japanese medical terms come from German for historical reasons), is sort of a strange psychedelic/Lynchian venture into soundtrack music, perhaps similar to Mabusa No Uta.

    Starting out with a bit of backtracked orchestral instrumentalisms called “December”, it gets gigantic, sinister and poppy with “Elegy”, which has a nice smoky texture to it, but as always it builds out to a full-on rocker somewhere in the middle… “Evil Stack 3″ is a minute of Lynchian feedback. “Monologue” starts off sweet, sparse notes, then big shoegazer sounds, it starts to get very LOUD!! “Method of Error” is your obligatory slow-as-death crunch number… pounding out sweetly, getting us ready for a long ride… church bells… wild changes and groaning psyche shifts… endless avant garde goodness on an unyielding core. Wild needle fuzz ride going!! It sounds like a live jam, but you never know where it’s going to go! Magic!!

    Over on side 2, “Bataille Sucre” also starts off slow and sweet, before quickly getting gory with a severe needle thrasher!! And just then – some sick whispered vocals from Gisèle Vienne make it really come alive! “Perforated Line” is the antithesis of the previous song – a hyperkinetic rocker/popper/technopop… which becomes “Castle In The Air”, a dreary and very Lynchian jazz threnody that goes way back to 1901 or so… “Mirano” is some sort of pop-ish tune, with some great dissonance distinguishing it beautifully. Orchestral and choral flourishes make it quite other-worldly, but in a different non-Lynchian way. Compelling and catchy in a way that is both conventional AND unconventional!! Even the harsh fade at the end seems so intentional!!!! “Canvas” starts off with a sound canvas, and then… some great drumless Boris!! Big biG BIG guitar sounds slash and burn, keep the mood high! The production is… wow!! “Maeve” continues the feedback from the previous song (and then some!!).

    Maybe this is the most interesting Boris album of the past five years!?!?

  • 2012
  • Asobi Seksu Boris

    Asobi Seksu x Boris, split single, released November 23, 2012, Sargent House records and Daymare Recordings – rock – Boris didn’t do much in 2012, but they did release nice little split single, from Boris’ pop phase (and I suppose Asobi Seksu is always dreampop). Side A starts off with Asobi Seksu doing Boris’ epic “Farewell” from the album Pink. It’s a sweet version with plenty of atmospherics, big booming keyboard sounds flying all over the place, some processed drums, and big old guitar sounds. It only runs five minutes, so it’s shorter than any of Boris’ versions, but it’s the longest song on this entire set.

    Boris covers Asobi Seksu’s “Neu Years”, starting with some epic big sounds, huge drums, rolling & hyperactive, then the saccarine Wata vocals swirling around & around. Nice, and highly-produced.

    If you get the vinyl, there’s a download card where you are able to download four more songs – two more Boris’ album cuts, and two more Asobi Seksu songs which I suppose must also be album cuts. Asobi Seksu’s “Perfect Crystal” is a chirpy, cheerful number that sounds like latter-day Cocteau Twins- it’s a bit annoying and doesn’t really blow you away. ‘Meh no Mae” is a bit more sedate and stretched out, with nice atmospherics and those high, high vocals, still sounding very operatic and latter-day Cocteau Twins. The Boris tracks “Flare” and “Spoon” are both from New Album, released around the same time, of which the former is a big chirpy rock bouncer with a highly-produced sound that you’d hear in a big-impact TV commercial or something, and the latter is another huge song, at least in the intro, but when Wata starts her breathy singing it sounds quite a bit nicer. Hmmm…

    The album art seems to be mainly from the Asobi Seksu people – lots of cute bunnies (simple line drawings on white on the outside, big colorful spread on the inside fold-out.

  • 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.



    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.



    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.

    attention-pls manga

    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)



    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!



    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

    Boris 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.


    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






    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


    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.



    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.



    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.



    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).

    Boris 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).


    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


    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!!!



    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.



    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.



    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!



    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


    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.



    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.



    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!



    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!!!



    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


    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.



    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).


    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!



    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.



    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!



    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.

    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.



    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.



    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


    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…



    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


    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.



    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.



    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 Layter

    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


    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.



    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


    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


    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


    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.



    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.





    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.



    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):

    With Merzbow covering “I Am The Walrus” by the Beatles.

    Covering “Seasons” by Dutch psychedelic pop band Earth & Fire.

    With Merzbow covering “Jane”, by the Krautrock band Jane.

    Covering “Rain”, by the Cult, with Ian Astbury on vocals for the BXI album/project.

    Covering “Flower Sun Rain” by PYG.

    Covering “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine.

    Covering Nirvana’s “Lithium”.

    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 Batman page
    My big bad Charlie Chaplin page
    My big bad Conan page
    My big bad Ender page
    My big bad Exile On Main Street page
    My big bad Guns N’ Roses page
    My big bad Hellboy page
    My big bad Indiana Jones page
    My big bad Jack Kirby page
    My big bad Madman page
    My big bad Ministry page
    My big bad Observatory page
    My big bad Rocky page
    My big bad Rolling Stones page
    My big bad Spitz page
    My big bad Superman page
    My big bad Ultra Fuckers page
    My big bad youth fiction page

    The Knives of Summer

    Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
    Knives of Summer

    Knives of Summer

    Knives of Summer, 3) – Recently, my friend Jack in Japan sent me this gorgeous CD that he’d been working on for the past three years, a solo project that he’s written, and plays guitar, drums, and sings on. It’s a stunning piece of work, with a 20-page illustrated lyrics booklet, a picture-CD and illustrated inlay card that are full of images of threesomeness (three rulers forming a triangle, three mushrooms for the lyrics to a song about mushroom consumption, and other cool song-related concepts). He’s made 500 of them and is giving them away to friends and strangers, with an inlay card encouraging people to share it on! The project is about threesomes, trilogies, and possible also the trinity (need to think of triplets of threes). As arty as it is visually, the music is also arty in its concepts, following three stories of threesomes (counted down in descending order – “Three” is the first song, “Two” comes around the middle, and “One” is the closing song), as is hinted at in the opening page where three newspaper clippings tell of three sad adventures/misadventures, each involving three people and some sort of calamity. There’s a foreword that the musical author of the project, here called Carver Lee (as he is in the musical credits) is telling his own story at the expense of his musical collaborators, who are part of the trilogy of adventurers and not just friends and sessionists. It’s full of funky misspellings like “Kool-Aide” and “Nanuray”. Carver claims it’s a true story that took place in 1994 – the story goes deeper and deeper.

    The music is intense and very rich, a collection of short-his songs largely dominated by Jack/Carver’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, but also with sound effects, field sounds, outside dialogue, occasional percussion and drumming by Jack, and other groovy effects. With very few instrumental bits, the main emphasis of the vocals is on narration and some singing, making it less a piece of theatrical music (which would be nearly all singing), than a musical play or a Roger Waters-style concept album (think Radio KAOS – and with 3′s many layers of voice/voice effects over an unfolding story, this is probably the most obvious comparison); indeed, the liner notes credit Waters as one of three musicians – along with Lyndsay Buckingham and Mark Linkous – who provided inspiration. There are also three main musicians credited to the project, with three voice actors, but also nine guest musicians (3 x 3, perhaps?) on certain songs – including three who played in Tripod Jimmy – who contribute bass, vocals, electric guitar, electric solos, acoustic solos, percussion and key pads.

    The lyrics are the main item of the project, and they are often very poetic, talking about “Mushrooms in a basket, a harvest for three/ Sneaky little trespassers in a field behind the trees”; where does someone come up with an image like “sneaky little trespassers”… or, heck, you could ask the same for the cool band title Knives of Summer? The project is full of such lush imagery, but they’re not the only link to poetry – the opening song, “3″ is written in some sort of pentameter with a complex rhyme scheme on words that sound like “three”. All throughout the tale, there are references to partying and drug use, pastoral images of summer love, friends hanging out, idle days of youth, romance and emotional intensity, ageing and family tensions, fighting, violence, emotional immaturity, and so many other themes besides.

    The opening song “Three”, starts the fun with a spare palate of spooky talking-singing and some deep guitar that characterises many of the songs on the project – it builds up to become more and more musical, eventually with four or five layers of guitar and droning sound effects. Wow! Lyrically, it sets the stage for our three protagonists to meet and become emotionally involved. “Let Me In” introduces Knives of Summer’s musical collaborators on bass and electric guitar, with the song flying trippy and droney, and builds up themes of drug hallucination, fumbling and crashing with weird noise. “Tourniquet Rules” is a gorgeous, standout piece with an opening mood similar to “Three” that builds in a memorable bit of female vocals on an intriguing lyric: “Tourniquet rules, twists in time/together we share the ties that bind”. With its subtle noise effects, this is one spooky song! “The Treehouse” tells the story that is related in a newspaper article on the first page of the booklet about a “death by misadventure” involving a treehouse and a noose. It proceeds, spooky as hell and is full of crazy musical ideas. Here we get a cameo from Shane Inwood, shouting voice and rock guitar, with more mood and sound. Crazy! “Ricky Eats The Rest” keeps the tension alive with spooky sounds that drone like a heartbeat, and then rocks out with a loud David Gilmour-esque guitar solo by Gabe Whyel, who played with Jack in the early 1990s in Jack Slam, a band once described as “Japan’s first (and hopefully last!) Grunge band”. “Mother” is a short, vocal-and-acoustic guitar track that gives an interesting version of the history of the world and its holy wars. “The Walk” brings in a bit of drum and percussion, perhaps for the first time on the album, a song that starts mellow, but builds up quickly with some quiet intensity, and a nice cricket chirp beat rises 30 seconds into the song that sounds at once familiar and also alien in the recording; there’s a nice acoustic instrumental part to the second half of the song, perhaps the longest on the recording, that’s punctuated by a bit of scene-setting chatter that makes you feel like you’re taking in a cool movie (perhaps Terrence Mallick’s Badlands?). “Two” is some sort of woody love song, also voice and guitar strums with by a bit of keyboard. “The River i) the romance, ii) mother goes to hell, iii) carla freaks”, with its complicated title and three distinct parts is (nearly) the longest song on the album, at 4:33. It’s set next to a river, with the sound or burbling and people playing in the water as it hums along with gorgeous acoustic guitar and lazy singing, working its way up slowly faster, with electronics, beat, then full rock drumming, and some new sounds and moods as the pastoral scene gets dark (which is hinted at in the introduction – “I will save the dark stuff for part two”), and ends with some cool keyboard sounds!
    “Soliloquy” is the first part of what (in the lyrics book) is called “Ricky’s Redemption”, and takes us back to the treehouse, full of dark images and tense drama, alternated with jangling sounds and fuzzy keyboard, scary rumbles and beautiful female vocals contrasting the narration of a dead person (or is he?). “The Play” continues the action and the drama and weirdness, twisting what we thought happened to our protagonists, and upping the pace of the music to some cool zooming action as we feel the tension of the accidental hanging and get some strange Jane’s Addiction harmony moods. David Notter provides a frantic acoustic guitar solo in the reprise to the song, which includes also Casey Virock’s peculiar multi-tracked pluckings and funk guitar – moody insanity here, augmented by organ and voices, all very nice. “All In Blood” is probably the biggest song on the recording, with dramatic situations, broad guitar, warbling choruses and harmonies, drum, guitar multilayers from Shane and Matthew Solberg, with a bit of jamming in the second half of the song. Fun! “Three, pt. 2″ starts off with spooky, psychedelic moods augmented by what sounds like a theremin, akin perhaps to moments of early Rush musical discoveries, and then a return to the Carver Lee on voice and acoustic guitar as the treehouse adventure continues: two injured boys and the woman they love, “we’re guided by a fickle mistress, and love is all we need. Our fate contains a tender heart. There’s room in there for three.” Great! Faith, love and pain, another trinity!! Musically, the song has a lovely groove and is awash with a sweet, pastoral flow. “Warrior Returns” feels tenser, with a droning electronic beat, tense drums, and… strings?! Another, bigger, not-so-pastoral world here of President Heston and Gulf War veterans. “Message to Aunt Jenny” is just that, a message recording machine playback of family mechanics and the infirmity of old age. Nice mellow guitar keeps it going, and there’s a gorgeous solo here from Fuyuki Hiroyoshi to end it off. “One” (which will never be mistaken for the song of the same name by Metallica or U2) starts off with beautiful female singing, and it almost feels like another band’s song in some ways before Carver’s voice comes in, and big drums and another Fuyuki Hiroyoshi takes the song to its end. “Track 17″ is a bit of an out-take that starts in silence, then wanders into some music and a short dialogue sketch.

    This is the kind of recording that is a lot of fun to listen and re-listen to while fondling and flipping through the booklet, following along the lyrics, and just trying to figure out what the heck is going on. The music lilts and moves you along with a nice acoustic groove and strange, twisted Sonic Youth movements that rise, darkly, right out of nowhere. The production is excellent and it just sounds fantastic. An amazing feat for everyone involved in the Knives of Summer, but especially its conceptualist Carver Lee!