Saturday, 29 August 2015

It Came From Japan #3: Boris

Where does one start when it comes to Boris? Here's a band whose discography is, erm, complex to say the least. Since 1996, they have released 22 studio albums, a dozen or so collaboration albums, numerous compilations of non-album tracks and five live albums. Prolific isn't the word. This year alone they have put out three very experimental records of their own, plus a collaboration with Japanese acoustic outfit Endon. Many of their records come in different versions. There are Japanese and English language versions, with vinyl and CD releases often having different tracklists and/or mixes. They are, quite frankly, a nightmare for completists.

Boris cannot really be pigeonholed, though they came through the Japanese noise and punk scene and retain a large amount of loud, noisy and heavy elements in their music. However, their experimental nature has taken them down various paths over the years: drone, sludge, heavy rock, shoegaze, electronic, punk, prog. Whatever they do though, critical praise usually accompanies it.

For me, one of their best periods has been the first half of this decade. 'New Album' was one of three albums the band released in May 2011, and is probably one of their most eclectic. It definitely has a shoegaze element to it. Some of its songs also appeared on the other two records 'Attention Please' and 'Heavy Rocks' in different forms. 'New Album' though is the one I turn to most. The track Hope makes me think of what the Pale Saints might have sounded like if they made a record with Loop or Swervedriver. Hope also featured on 'Attention Please', that version being released as a single, but I prefer this one.

In 2013, 'Präparat' came out. Its sleeve looked like it belonged in the drone metal section of a record shop, but while there are elements of that, 'Präparat' actually runs far deeper. There's a host of styles criss-crossing with each other, though overall it's a lot heavier and rawer than 'New Album'. I absolutely love the track Aika from this album. I also absolutely love Quicksilver from last year's aptly-titled 'Noise'. It's just crazy nuts. Fast, loud, heavy and mental, it ends with a long section of droning guitars, taking us back to their roots.

I admit this will be far from everyone's taste, but I like to think there's something in Boris' extensive catalogue to appeal to many - as long as they're open minded. If you're still not sure, I've included a track they did with regular collaborator Merzbow back in 2007. It's a cover of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus. At the very least, the accent should make you smile...


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