Sunday, 14 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Two: Boris

Japanese band Boris have tried their hand at most genres and this eclecticism has not, at all, made them jack's of all trades and master's of none; Boris are masterful. Due to their diverse sound from record to record (sometimes song to song) - J-pop to drone to stoner to grindcore to psychedelia and so on - they draw a diverse fan-base, but those albums that lean closer to the metal side of things are, on the whole, extremely impressive.

Boris have released a lot of music, sometimes something once or even twice a year, and  consistency and proficiency of their mesh of styles is astonishing. Their first three albums - Absolutego (1996), Amplifier Worship (1998) and Flood (2000) - are vast and engrossing in scope and build-up; Boris know how to arrange albums, how to intensify and heighten certain moments with build-ups and progressions. Absolutego is a crushing mass of dense drone and incessant pounding. The succeeding Amplifier Worship is essentially drone-sludge but stirred among the dragging riffs are swift moments of change: stoner-esque pace, bluesy-grooves, psychedelic wobbles and trance-like drumming; the songs need to be listened to in their context to experience the full impact: 'Hama', the third song, begins 25 minutes into the album and is the first moment of any speed or release; it well and truly explodes as the valve is blown off and the release of pressure is huge: speedy drumming, riffs and stoner-esque vocals in Japanese contrast powerfully with the preceding steadiness. There are incredible rises and falls, shifts from slow to fast, loud to quiet and vice versa throughout Boris's music. It's something they do better than most. 

The name Boris was taken from the Melvin's song 'Boris' and in early Boris their influence is most noticeable. Like Melvin's they've dabbled in most things; their most conventional, riff-based music is some of the most energetic and powerful. My personal favourite Akuma No Uta (2003) - the front cover of Takeshi Ohtani holding his trademark guitar mimics British singer-songwriter Nick Drake's Bryter Layer album - is a sprawling and engrossing epic of an album that is structured to perfection: the atmospheric nine-minute instrumental opener - vibrating and crackling with droney anticipation - ciphers into the second track 'Ibistsu' - a frantic, groovy romp of whistling guitars and gruff intensity; 'Ibistu' leads in to the similarly energetic and catchy 'Free' before fading in to 'Naki Kyoku (Crying Song)' that I believe to be the centerpiece of the album - a melancholy guitar led track that slowly moves from its bittersweet opening into an out-pouring of psychedelic steadiness, gradually picking up pace and intensity before bursting into life; the album finishes with 'Akuma No Uta', a fragmented dual of guitar sounds and thumping drumming that spirals and thrashes to close. 

Their 2014 release Noise is a dark and vast album that recalls the expansive sounds of their earlier work with the playfulness of of their mid to present career. I've only talked of a few albums that I've given the most time to, but there are so many others that I've neglected to speak of due to time (and effort): Pink, Heavy Rocks, Vein (Drone) and Vein (Hardcore), Feedbacker, and Flood are all quality albums that I just haven't explored as thoroughly as I would have liked to, and if you like J-pop check out Attention Please.

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