Every month, our resident music expert, Luke, emerges from a dark corner of the office to give us his thoughts on the most original musical acts in Japan that you probably won’t hear about anywhere else. In a musical landscape usually associated with girl groups and anime robot singers, these are the artists that make the Japanese music scene come to life.
You can never have enough necks on your guitar
Formed in 1992, Boris have incorporated a dizzying number of styles into their music. At times metal, at times drone, at times even pop, every album brings a new dimension to their sound. Their live performances are equally as unpredictable.
When I saw Boris live for the first time, they brought along an extra sound system (Broad Axe), clearly because what was at the venue wouldn’t suffice. The tickets came with a health warning, because it would be so loud. No joke. During the heaviest, sludgy drones I could feel my eyeballs vibrating. On top of that, the lighting was such a crazy sensory overload that I basically was unable to see straight. Rock’n’roll!
Boris is a three-piece act consisting of drums, bass, and guitar. This may seem like a basic setup, but the amount of effects and accessories they bring with them both in the studio and on stage fills out their sound. If you close your eyes and let the sound take you over, it would be easy to believe that an entire orchestra was at work. Even on stage, they use their effects so well, it’s hard to believe only three people are making this music happen.
For me Boris is the perfect representation of what a rock band should be. They’re purely about making awesome music and aren’t the least bit interested with what anyone has to say about them. To the members, being pinned to a specific genre of music is a hinderance they can’t afford. They have released a whopping 24 albums without making their sound seem repetitive, so that mindset seems to be working out for them.
At Austin Psych Fest
The only problem with them having so many albums is that it’s so hard to know where to start. When you turn on one of their releases, you never really know what you’re going to get.
Also, because of the fact that on a lot of their albums they favor epic-ly long or multipart song structures, it’s hard to point out individual tracks. Many of their albums rely on the experience of actually sitting down and listening to the album to fully appreciate what is on display.
So here we go. Instead of the top three tracks, let’s look at three full albums that represent the best of Boris’ sound.
Boris at Last: Feedbacker
After seeing them perform, I rinsed Boris at Last: Feedbacker. It really shows how eclectic they are, and it’s basically a flawless album. If you’re looking for words to describe it, you could choose ambient, progressive, psychedelic, noise, or any combination of the above. Listening to it is the only way to get a sense of what it really is, though.
Secondly, I recommend Pink. Released in 2005, it represents a much more rock ‘n’ roll infused sound, making it a bit more accessible to a wider audience than Feedbacker. It also hints towards grunge and shoegaze, enveloping you in a wall of sound. This is the stuff that will make your ears bleed live.
Another one to check out is Heavy Rocks. As the name quite explicitly suggests, this album will hit you on the head with an anvil just like in Tom & Jerry. This stuff is heavy…and, yes, it rocks. The moments of sludginess are quickly penetrated with some serious riffing. They should bring back Guitar Hero just so they could make a special edition with this album. Try stopping yourself from air-guitaring while listening.