Considering the track record of Japanese avant-garde/experimental/noise/drone/whatever-you-want-to-call-it trio Boris, the band at this point in their lengthy career don’t have anything to prove. Boris have proven themselves as far back as 1998 when arguably one of the strangest yet most compelling records of the 90s, Amplifier Worship emerged to an unsuspecting audience, and have since flown effortlessly through different genres and styles to deter anyone wanting to call them a one-trick pony. Of course, 25 years after forming the band still seem intent on rooting around in the underground scene with only their steady cult following to await each and every release with eager anticipation, but every garnered fan knows that the wait is always worth it with Boris.
2017 is already a special year given that Boris have been around for a quarter of a century, and it seems fitting to celebrate this anniversary with the release of a new full-length effort entitled Dear. Dear essentially encapsulates everything that Boris have done right up to this point in their career, and though much of the album seems to reflect on the best moments of the band’s time in the studio, it also appears to be a continuation of a sound which is ready to be played around with and progressed as far as possible. The first two tracks here strongly reference Boris’ clash with drone/doom soundscapes, where the band’s minimalist albeit mesmerizing one-note thrum is all that really matters. Unfolding menacing psychedelia and a listless though slightly unsettling vocal hum at the halfway point, opener “D.O.W.N.” revels in its ability to take a singular idea and spurn it through multi-dimensional musicianship. Whilst it takes a few listens to get to grips with what’s going on here, it’s clear that Boris have adapted a safe environment for the more straightforward side of their musical pallette.
Dear does reveal beauty within chaos, and the usage of dual vocal performances and even the odd accordion intro (“Distopia Vanishing Point”) makes this point ring true. Firstly, you have to credit the dreamlike state of “Beyond”, because of its wholly fluent progression and the way in which it segues from one melody to the next. It also helps that Wata’s vocals are outstanding when heard on their own. With surrounding musicianship which proves captivating with each growing minute, this soulful experience is maintained and it’s quite hard to turn away from the cacophony of sounds that Boris have presented. There’s a similar sensation to be found in both “Biotope” and the aforementioned “Distopia Vanishing Point”, although the former is more aggressive in tone and the latter is perhaps Boris journeying through the realm of progressive rock. “Distopia Vanishing Point” even makes excellent use of the accordion, adding a folksy flair to an otherwise spacey, almost isolated soundscapes.
That said, it all works to the band’s advantage and the way in which they present themselves in each of Dear‘s ten songs is unforgettable to the willing audience. Dear is a strong-willed example of how Boris have only ever done things their way, and whilst this may have cost them so much as a stab at the mainstream, you can quickly understand that this is a band making music for love, rather than materialism. It may not be Boris’ most immediate or indeed awe-inspiring effort, but Dear is still one of 2017’s finest albeit most challenging records.
Released: July 14th, 2017
- D.O.W.N.-Domination of Wanting Noise
- The Power
- Memento Mori
- Distopia Vanishing Point