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Archive for the ‘Boris’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 7, 2019] Boris

It was almost exactly two years ago that I first saw Boris.  They had come out with a new record and were actually thinking of calling it quits.  But they were inspired to do a tour, which I was sure was their last one, and it was spectacular.

Yet in the last two years they have signed to Third Man Records and have done a live session there.  They are just about to release a two album set called Love Evol (technically Lφve Evφl) and reissue Feedbacker and Akuma No Uta.  So when they announced that they were coming back–and coming to Jersey City–there was no way I could pass it up, even if it meant three concerts in three days.

Especially since the last time they played pretty much the whole new album, which was great, but I wanted to hear some older stuff too.

After the previous two nights of cutting it very close to the start of the show, I knew I wanted to get their early, in part because I had some merch to buy.  I’ve gotten very frugal about buying merch and I often don’t buy anything.  But Boris is a band that’s hard to find stuff here.  And even though Third Man was reissuing records which would mean they are much easier to get, I wasn’t taking any chances . So I arrived plenty early, bought some vinyl (and now greatly regret not buying the Tears EP, which I somehow didn’t know about and now see that it is impossible to get anywhere else). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20,2019] Mono

It seems entirely possible that I could subsist on rock bands from Japan for a couple of months.  Between Acid Mothers Temple, Boris and now Mono, I have an amazing collection of experiences both on record and in person.

I was unfamiliar with Mono when Union Transfer announced that they’d be playing a “big, intense show, like usual.”  But I had to check them out…  (especially since tickets were only $10–a criminally low price for such an amazing show).

Mono has released some ten albums (plus EPs and more) since 2001.   They have been a band since 1999 with only one lineup change.  The original drummer left in 2018 and was replaced by New Yorker Dahm Majuri Cipolla. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20, 2019] Emma Ruth Rundle

The night after Animals as Leaders, I was excited to check out Mono, primarily because I assumed it wouldn’t be all that crowded.  In fact, I didn’t even have a ticket ahead of time (risky if you’re driving over an hour, but it worked out fine).

My friends Liz and Eleanor had given me a Union Transfer gift card for my birthday and you can only use it at the box office, so I figured it was a nice time try it out.

The stage was pushed far forward to lessen the floor space (which is a cool thing they can do at UT).  I rather like when the stage is pushed forward as it makes the show intimate without being crowded.

I hadn’t heard of Emma Ruth Rundle and didn’t know anything about her.   I had no idea that she had a following (she has released three albums and plays in some other bands). (more…)

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815SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-DEAR (2017).

The plan was that after 25 years, Boris would retire.  They recorded songs for Dear, but then toured the anniversary of the album Pink.  This inspired them to write more songs, and somehow through all of that, Dear was created (with apparently enough music for two more albums).

Then they toured Dear (a tour I was lucky enough to see) and are still going.  Who knows if they are done.  Who knows if this is their final album.  Either way, this is a doozy.

10 songs and 70 minutes (on the U.S. release), Dear specialized in slow droney heavy songs.  The album opens with seven smacks of a drum before loud heavy chords signal the beginning of “D.O.W.N -Domination of Waiting Noise.”  The vocals are loud but just loud enough to add to the overall drone sound.  Things slow down further with “Deadsong” a deep bass drone with whispered, rather spooky/demonic vocals.

Despite the drones there are moments of catchiness (relative).  “Absoluego” is a faster, downtuned song with a big shouted chorus and “Beyond” is a quiet, moody song featuring Wata on vocals.  About 90 seconds into the song there is blast of metal guitars and drums that lasts for 30 seconds or so before fading out.  When it happens again, one of the guys starts singing too, a faster heavier, catchier melody.

“Kagero” opens with a low rumble.  Eventually a slow, heavy guitar comes in with near falsetto singing.  “Biotope” has a steady pulsing bass drum through the track.  The guitars are slower with an occasional plucked string that resonates. This song even has some ooohs in it.

“The Power” has my favorite Boris riff since “Tu la la.”  It’s got six notes all of which are strangely menacing and yet catchy at the same time. This was a great song to see live.  “Momentio Mori” is slow and menacing with cool echoed/chorused vocals–there’s an Alice in Chains vibe to the vocals.  With about a minute left, the song slows down and grows quiet almost as a lead in to the 12 minute “Dystopia -Vanishing Point.”  This song opens with two minutes of warbly accordion (I loved watching Wata play this part live) and some thundering drums.  It all fades away into some quiet ringing guitars and whispered vocals.  This continues for a few minutes as waves of guitars are added.  And then at 7 minutes the loud guitars and drums blast forth and Wata gets to do a screaming solo for the final 4 minutes.  She is still soloing as the song abruptly ends and switches to the final track.

“Dear” opens with those low downtuned guitars echoing.  I love that the guitars simply slide up to a very high note and hold it until sliding back down.  There’s a muffled chug on the low chords while the heavily echoed vocals ring out.  The song continues like this, a mountain of low rumble, for 9 minutes until it starts to consume itself–feedbacking and disintegrating until it sounds like all of the plugs are pulled.

There’s not a lot of diversity on this disc, which resembles some of their earlier music.  I’m very curious to see what they do next.

[READ: February 9, 2016] “The Republic of Bad Taste”

This story (it feels complete and not like an excerpt, although the title seems unlikely as a short story title) was 20 pages long in this issue of the New Yorker.  That’s one of the longest pieces I’ve seen in the magazine.

And it covers a lot of ground.

Like how does an at-risk-youth counselor agree to commit murder?

It begins by introducing us to Andreas Wolf in East Germany circa 1987.  He is a disaffected youth, an atheist with a super libido and he has found employment at the church on Siegfeldstrasse.  Andreas felt the whole regime was ridiculous.  In fact he felt that a lot of things were ridiculous.  The Republic was just so German that it couldn’t even go after misfits unless it was by the book.

His “job” at the church was as a youth counselor.  He was surprisingly good at it. In part because he really didn’t care and in part because he himself was almost at risk.  He wasn’t really at risk because his father had a good position with the government, but they had more or less disowned him (aside from agreeing to make sure he never got into real trouble).  Plus, he was pretty good-looking so many of the at risk girls found him attractive–with all that implies.

He took advantage of this.  He found that his monetary reward was so pitiful that a reward in beautiful girls made up for it.  At the same time, he did have some scruples.  He never had sex with anyone underage or anyone who had been sexually abused.  What a guy. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS WITH MERZBOW-Rock Dream (2007).

Rock Dream was recorded live in November 2006 at Tokyo’s Earthdom festival.  It is a mix of the heaviness of Boris and the noise of Merzbow.  And it is lauded as a spectacular live document.

The Austin Chronicle discussed the album in their overview of Boris’ career, declaring it “definitive live document, an impossibly dense double album that touches down on nearly every point of their career, from Dronevil to Smile’s contorted stairway to heaven (“Flower Sun Rain”), with Merzbow’s electronic manipulations stitching it all together like connective scar tissue.”
In a retrospective review Tiny Mix Tapes, declared Rock Dream to be “not just the best album Boris ever made, but also one of the finest live albums I’ve ever heard.” and that “It’s incredible then that someone recorded Boris and Merzbow that night, because for two hours they got to be the best band on the planet.”

And what live show that opens with a 35 minute song wouldn’t be fantastic?  “Feedbacker” starts quietly with just guitar and Merzbow’s effects.  It has an almost spaghetti western feel to it with all the reverb.  Unsurprisingly, there’s moments throughout the 35 minutes where things dramatically change.  At 6 minutes there’s loud ringing guitars.  At 9 minutes things slow down and then slowly build back up with swells of music from the guitars, keys and effects. At 20 minutes, muted vocals come in and then grow louder.  It feels like it’s building to an end but it turns into faster guitars and a lot of noise.  By 31 minutes things have slowed down heading towards an ending which is primarily Merzbow’s pulsing sounds.  (And there’s so much more going on in that half an hour).

These sounds segue into “Blackout” full of thrashing guitars, crashing cymbals and Merzbow’s noise.  This segues into a song that I gather is only heard here: “Evil Stack” which features a lot of Merzbow’s knob twiddling and noise making and a lot of feedback as well.

This all segues into “Rainbow,”  a far more mellow song that opens with bass harmonics and simple drum beat with Wata’s quiet vocals.  It’s a slinky cool song with a mellow guitar solo.  Merzbow throws in some interesting sounds and and mild noises throughout.

If Disc one showcased their more expansive sound, Disc two opens with a bunch of really short fast loud songs all from Pink.

First off is the raging punk blast of “Pink.”  It is all-out thrash with a lot of yelling from Atsuo and wailing solos from Wata.  It’s followed by the 2 and a half minute rager “Woman on the Screen” with a great punk riff, lots of Atsuo’s screams and of course Merzbow putting a wall of distorrted noise over the top.  The trio concludes with the two minute  “Nothing Special.”  The punky blasts continue with “Ibitsu.”   It’s not from Pink but it’s just as fast.

Things slow down somewhat with “A Bao A Qu.”  It is 4 and a half minute with a lot of squealing feedback and thunderous drumming.  The final four songs return to that epic style–they are alternately 13 minutes or 8 minute long.

“The Evilone Which Sobs” slows things down with more of that reverbed spaghetti-western style guitar.  There’s squeals of feedback, slow plucked guitar and Merzow as this 13 minute song gets under way.  After three minutes the loudest guitar and bass imaginable come crashing through the melody.  The rest of the song is full on loud drone and feedback.  It all slows down for their surprisingly catchy of cover of Pyg’s “Flower Sun Rain,” which sounds just as good live as on record–including Wata’s wailing solo.

The final two songs return to Pink.  “Just Abandoned My-self” runs over 13 minutes and opens with a scream from Atsuo, wailing guitars from Wata and vocals from Takeshi.  The song barely lets up for seven minutes, and when it finally changes pace, it’s more for the guitars to do some e-bow working while Atsuo continues to pound away.  The last four minute are those droning chords with Merzbow making some really interesting sounds while the band plays on.  Merzbow ends the song with a kind of looping siren that leads into the show ending with a great version of “Farewell.”

Unlike the one from Crossing Waltz, Merzbow’s presence make a pretty big difference in the dynamic of “Farewell.”  The band sounds terrific and it’s a fantastic take on this by now iconic song.

For sure this live set isn’t for everyone–it’s loud, there’s some uncomfortable moments–but it really captures a band at full power.  And as with most Boris releases, it had a different cover in Japan.

Disc one   Total length:       49:58
“Feedbacker” (Originally from Boris at Last: -Feedbacker-) 35:05
“Blackout” (Originally from Pink) 5:19
“Evil Stack” 5:04
“Rainbow” (Originally from Rainbow) 4:30
Disc two  Total length:       60:32
“Pink” (Originally from Pink) 4:14
“Woman on the Screen” (Originally from Pink) 2:37
“Nothing Special” (Originally from Pink) 2:14
“Ibitsu” (Originally from Akuma no Uta) 3:35
“A Bao A Qu” (Originally from Sound Track from Film “Mabuta no Ura”) 4:35
“The Evilone Which Sobs” (Originally from Dronevil) 13:41
“Flower Sun Rain” (PYG cover, later released on Smile) 8:04
“Just Abandoned My-self” (Originally from Pink) 13:21
“Farewell” (Originally from Pink) 8:11

[READ: February 21, 2017] “Mrs Crasthorpe”

This story revealed itself slowly and in interesting ways.

We meet Mrs Crasthorpe in the first paragraph.  She is humiliated because her husband’s funeral has just been poorly attended.  It was also, by his own design, in a small, unassuming, frankly embarrassing cemetery.  Mrs Crasthorpe is 59.  Her husband was 72.  Yes, she had married him for money and yet it didn’t really make her a more fulfilled person.  She had cheated on her husband, but he didn’t seem to mind or care.

She had felt herself to be always a rosebud, claiming to be 45 when she was late nearly 60.  She also told no one she had a son.

Then we shift to following Etheridge, a man whose wife is near death.  He is tender to her, caring, but she doesn’t have long to live. (more…)

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815

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Crossing Waltz (2016).

Boris have put out (by my understanding) eight live albums.  As with most of their releases, they’re not all easy to find.  I happened to get this one because they were selling it at the show I was at (many of their releases seem to be only for sale at the merch table).  This one is from their own Fangs Anal Satan label.  It was released in 2016 but was recorded sometime around 2011.

It happens that this era is one that I know best (they put out three albums on the same day and they are all still available) so this is a fun live album for me since it’s fun to hear the distinctions and their ability to translate them in a live setting.

The disc opens with a two-minute intro–sirens from the opening of “Heavy Rocks 2011” which leads into “Riot Sugar.”  The song is heavy–it rocks out and is full of Atsuo’s whoops and yells–the sign of a real rocking song.  “8” is a song I didn’t know.  It starts with a lot of gong and has some great falsetto vocals.

“Statement” is great to hear live because it’s cool that they can play the songs just like on record.  Not that it sounds like the record exactly, but that they can recreate the music live–and keep it all catchy too.

Then things slow down for a few songs from Wata.  “Attention Please” is quiet and silky with cool guitar and effects.  I love the way Wata delivers the quiet, whispered lyrics.  It’s followed by “Party Boy.”  “Party Boy” appears on two records.  It’s hard to know which “version” this is but this one is slinky, dancey and heavy at the same time (we’ll say Attention Please, since there’s not much synth)..

“Flare” is from a 7″ and it is very heavy.  Then it’s back to Wata singing the really catchy “Spoon” with heavy drums.  The first disc ends with the 16 minute “Missing Pieces” (longer than the album by a few minutes).  Like a good epic, it starts slowly.  After three minutes Atsuo introduces a lot of drums and then the bass and guitar roar for about a minute.  It fades to near quiet once again.  There’s a minute or so of just vocals before the guitars come back, this time with soloing while Takeshi is singing.  Around six minutes in it turns to noise, noise, noise–both guitars on feedback and scraping and the drummer going bananas.  The band stops on a dime for complete silence and then takes off again–noise and more noise.  There’s feedback and gongs and more feedback.  And then at 11 and a half minutes the drums return–continuing through to the end.

Disc two opens with “Window Shopping” which is all about fuzz and buzz, full of Atsuo’s yeahs and a crazy wild solo at the end from Wata. 

Then they move back to some older albums for 2 songs.  “1970” comes from 2002’s Heavy Rocks album (the orange one).  It is full of bass rumble.  It leads to the classic “Pink” with gongs as the transition.  Even all of these years later, these songs are full of power.

“Alierion” is the longer version.  It starts slow and quiet and builds and builds, getting heavier for 12 or so minutes. The last minute is a solo piano melody, a dramatic departure for them.  Then the sirens come in again for “Looprider.”  “Looprider” is eight catchy minutes of shoegazey fun.

The by now standard closing of “Farewell” ends the show.  Hearing those opening notes live was great and it is great here.  The song sounds terrific.

One of the things about Boris live is that their vocals are never clear.  Perhaps if you understand Japanese the vocals are more obvious, but it feels like they may be something of an afterthought, especially live. The band is all about the sonic experience and the vocals, the voice, is just another piece of that.

1.1 Intro  2:35
1.2 Riot Sugar — Heavy Rocks (2011)  4:53
1.3 8 — Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol 1 (2009) 4:03
1.4 Statement — Smile (2008)  3:49
1.5 Attention Please — Attention Please (2011)  6:34
1.6 Party Boy — New Album (2011)  3:55
1.7 Flare — Asobi Seksu x Boris 7″ (2012)  4:24
1.8 Spoon — Attention Please (2011)  4:57
1.9 Missing Pieces — Heavy Rocks (2011)  16:01
2.1 Window Shopping — Heavy Rocks (2011)  5:58
2.2 1970 — Heavy Rocks (2002)  5:03
2.3 Pink — Pink (2006)  4:52
2.4 Ailerion — Heavy Rocks (2011)  13:52
2.5 Looprider — New Album (2011)  8:18
2.6 Farewell — Pink (2006)  7:37

[READ: February 8, 2016] “Quaestio de Centauris”

I was sure that I had read or posted about stories from Primo Levi before 2016, but I see no evidence of it.

Perhaps I have never read him, just heard of him.  I don’t know if this story is anything like what he typically writes, but it was a pretty unexpected story topic (continuing with the theme of this issue, apparently).

The story was translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee.  And, as one might decipher from the title, the story is about centaurs.

The narrator says that his father kept a centaur in the barn.  Although he admonished the boy not to bother it, the bot and the centaur, Trachi, became friends.  Trachi even allowed him to ride on his back from time to time. (more…)

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815

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Noise (2013).

You really never know what you’re going to get with Boris.  Most of the time, there are multiple editions of releases with different covers and different mixes.

In this case, despite the different covers of this record (see below), the track listing is exactly the same (except that the Japanese version came with a bonus disc).  Total length: 57:52

I like that this album cover parodies (sort of) Nirvana’s Bleach album cover.

“Melody” (黒猫メロディ) 6:40 The disc opens with some ringing alt-rock wit a distorted rocking chorus.   Despite the cover, it’s not like Nirvana, it’s more soaring  there’s catchy backing oohs and a cool hi-hat flourish.

“Vanilla” 4:15 is heavy in the same vein as “Melody” and “Ghost of Romance” (あの人たち) 5:49  has slow guitars and soaring leads with a heavy solo.  “Heavy Rain” (雨) 6:12 starts quite slowly with vocals by Wata and then there’s a big crash and the heavy section follows.  It alternates between quiet and loud at intervals.

“Taiyo no Baka” (太陽のバカ) 3:36 is almost a pop metal sound with dancey vocals and woah hos.  There’s even a simple guitar riff that follows along.  At three and a half minutes it’s a pure pop gem.

“Angel” 18:42 Angel, on the other hand pushes 19 minutes and it’s an epic workout.  It begins with a pretty, quiet guitar riff interlaced with a second guitar and interesting percussion.  There’s slow vocals as well.  But after 6 minutes, a loud distorted guitar interrupts the pretty melody, but it’s only playing an intermittent chord.  Even the powerful drums blasts don’t change the overall tempo of the song until a minute later when it takes on a loud droning quality with harmony vocals and a distorted bass moments.  There’s a soaring guitar solo as well.  By around 10 minutes the song turns into an uptempo rocker with falsetto vocals!  The song seems to climax at 13 minutes with a big gong.  But there’s more.  The song turns into a kind of soaring instrumental with echoing guitars and thumping drums.  With two minutes left the song returns to that opening guitar riff with a tidy solo over the top.  It’s like the song is nicely bookended with itself.  It’s quite the centerpiece.

“Quicksilver” 9:51 Who know what another band might follow a 20 minute song with, but Boris chose a nearly 10 minute song.  It seems at first that “Quicksilver” is going to be a short blast with the super fast pummeling hardcore sound.  There’s screamed vocals and wild drumming but it’snot that simple.  At 3 and a half minutes, the song slows down some although it stays heavy.  By around the 5th minute there;s lou dbacking voclals to accompant the lead vocal.  Once again, a false climax comes at 7 minutes but there’s more feedback to come along with a quiet, pretty guitar outro.  Until the final two minutes when there are loud droning chords that play through to the end.

“Siesta” (シエスタ) 2:50 Siesta is the shortest song on the disc, an instrumental that is kind of pretty and kind of woozy at the same time.  It’s definitely a slow down from the erst of the album and a nice conclusion.

This was the first Boris album I bought and it’s still a favorite.

The Japanese edition (cover to the right) came with this bonus disc, which I’ve not heard.

CD 2 (Another Noise) Total length: 23:26
1. “Bit” 9:35
2. “Kimi no Yukue” (君の行方) 4:51
3. “Yuushikai Revue” (有視界 Revue) 3:32
4. “Discharge” (ディスチャージ) 5:32

[READ: July 23, 2015] “Love is Blind and Deaf”

This was the 2015 New Yorker fiction issue.  It featured several stories and several one-page essays from writers I like.

In addition to those essays on Time-Travel it also included this short piece from Safran Foer.  I hadn’t seen much from Safran Foer recently, so I was interested to read this (very) short story.  It’s all of one page.

Much as Zadie Smith’s story about celebrities was unexpected, so was this one (on the following page in the magazine no less) about Adam & Eve.

We learn that Adam was blind and so never had to see Eve’s hideous birthmark.  And that Eve was deaf and never had to listen to Adam’s whiny narcissism.  And then they ate the apples and knew everything.  (more…)

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