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[Sargent House; 11/25/2011]
Madness is the Method
The latest entry in the annals of ungoogleability is the new album from Japanese experimental rockers Boris. Called New Album, it contains several reworkings of songs from the last two Boris albums, titled Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, also released this year. New Album is convenient if you missed the first two. Now, you can get the CliffsNotes version in one handy disc.
To further condense what has been a delightfully strange year for Boris fans: The perversity that earned the trio legendary status for systematically dismantling heavy metal has led them to resist even their image as heavy noise lovers. An experimental group at heart, they’ve managed to startle by dabbling more and more in simple tunefulness. Attention Please was downright shocking in its noise pop tendencies.
Still, even if there is a hint of J-pop in tracks like the gently oscillating “Hope,” and even if “Jackson Head” sounds like an homage to Boom Boom Satellites, Boris’s way of going poppy on New Album (and Attention Please) is more My Bloody Valentine than Morning Musume. New Album doesn’t sound influenced by MBV, though. It sounds like Boris duplicated MBV’s sonic research in isolation, developing a uniquely Borisian beast.
If you’d never listened to the band before, you might suppose they are a fascinating and perplexing art rock band after listening to New Album, especially taking into account the drifting six-minute long space aria of “Pardon?” and the house beat backing this album’s version of “Les Paul Custom ’86.” And perhaps they are becoming just that. But if you thought about it you might wonder what was up with all that virtuosic mid-song genre-switching. Those habits are second nature to the veteran band and that’s really what makes this a Boris album. They could draw inspiration from zydeco and sea shanties if they wanted. Filtered through their collective imagination, it would still come out sounding like it was from another dimension.
Some of this experimentation with melody was prefigured in the strange lightness of 2008′s Smile, and after three albums in this vein, albeit in the space of a year, it’s starting to seem like making more (for them) conventional music is their real current direction. Maybe they’ve really gone pop. If that is the case, they’ll still be one of the most interesting bands in independent music. But here’s hoping their next move will be even more confusing and unexpected. After all, that’s what we’ve come to expect.
Image courtesy of US/THEM Group