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Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BORIS with MERZBOW-Gensho (Disc Two: Merzbow) (2016).

In 2016, Boris teamed with Merzbow to create Gensho, a 2 CD package that was designed to have both CDs played at the same time.  Not the easiest thing for many people, but with the advent of digital recordings it’s now pretty easy to play both discs at the same time (this release is on Spotify).

Disc 1 was all Boris.  Disc 2 was all Merzbow.

Merzbow is a real challenge for me.  I’m not really sure how anyone can listen to his music for pleasure.  It’s harsh, electronic sounds, with high pitched squeals and low staticy distortions.  As an exercise in noise, it’s fairly interesting, but never enjoyable.

This disc includes four songs.

“Planet of the Cows” is over 18 minutes long.  It’s high pitched squealing and a low distortion.  There’s a thumping that works almost like a rhythm.  After ten minutes it sounds like a space alarm is sounding.

“Goloka Pt. 1” is 20 minutes long.  It feels bigger and more metallic.  The noises seem to coalesce into a distant screaming sound.

“Goloka Pt. 2” is 19:30.  It’s got a slightly lower tone, with slower movement among the noises.  Although sirens and pulsing sounds are present.  Then at 12 minutes all the sirens drop out to just a quiet robotic pulsing with thumping that sound like a heartbeat.  The track ends in what sounds like mechanical breathing.

“Prelude to a Broken Arm” is the shortest song at only 16 minutes.  It is quieter with a low crunching and bug-like sounds.  At 6 and half minutes the distortion comes in really loud with a mechanical drum/broken engine sound and then a looping siren with the kind of static noise that sounds like more screaming.

It is an unsettling and challenging listen and not for the squeamish.

[READ: February 10, 2021] “Our House”

Irish writers are often known for their humorous storytelling.  But wow, can Irish writers really hit hard with the tragedy, too.

This is one of the darkest stories I’ve read in a long time.

The story begins with the narrator saying that his father always told him to never buy a house on a  corner.  But the narrator and his wife did anyway.  It was in bad shape and needed a lot of work, but they fell in love with the place and felt they were up to the task.

The story sets up the spouses as opposites in love.  She is a non-practicing Protestant with a Catholic name (Ursula) and he is a non-practicing Catholic with a Protestant name.  She thinks he is funny and he never dares to admit that she rarely gets the jokes.

The previous owner died three years ago and they are the first people to check out the place.  The more they clean the more work they see needs to get done.  Although there are some nice surprises (like the five hundred pounds in cash they find under the carpet).

But it’s the neighborhood that proves to be more hostile to them than they could ever have imagined.  Children began gathering at the corner every day.  They get up to mischief right away–ringing the doorbell and running, bouncing a ball off the house.  But there is an underlying air of menace behind all of this. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS with MERZBOW-Gensho (Disc One: Boris) (2016).

In 2016, Boris teamed with Merzbow to create Gensho, a 2 CD package that was designed to have both CDs played at the same time.  Not the easiest thing for many people, but with the advent of digital recordings it’s now pretty easy to play both discs at the same time (this release is on Spotify).

Disc 1 was all Boris.  Disc 2 was all Merzbow.

Boris’ album is unusual in that it is re-recordings of some of the bands music as well as a couple of new tracks and a cover.  The unusual part is that there are no drums.  There are percussive elements, especially on one track, but there’s no regular drum beat to any of these tracks.

“Farewell” (from Pink) is a simple two note guitar melody with washes of sound behind it.  New notes expand that repeating motif. After two minutes a roaring chord comes in and holds while the vocals sing an uplifting melody.  The chord progression is very very slow with chords that drone. When the melody shifts to a higher note it feels like the whole song is elevated.  There’s a pretty little guitar solo in the middle and even a gong hit.  It’s one of Boris’ prettier songs and it fades softly into the noise that is “Huge.”

“Huge” (from Amplifier Worship) is two feedbacking guitars introducing distorted chords and lots of gong hits.  They’re followed by a ponderous drone-fueled six chord progression.  At around five minutes the vocals–a growl really–starts up.  At 8 minutes a new pattern emerges.  Two chugging chords and then a roaring low note–practically trademark Boris.

“Resonance” was a new song for Boris.  It is only echoed percussion–randomly and slowly hit.  The title makes sense as these sounds echo and resonate for a long time after they are sounded.  It’s not particularly interesting by itself but it works well with the Merzbow track tacked on.

“Rainbow” comes from the album Rainbow, a collaboration with Michio Kurihara.  I don’t know this record, but if this is any indication of that release, it sounds like a string record.  This is a quiet, pretty song–a sliding bass and a quietly echoing guitar riff as the song whispers along.  Then Wata starts singing quietly as the bass slinks around.  After three minutes a fuzzy guitar solo comes in drawing all attention to itself.  It rips through and ends in a wall of noise before the vocals start again.  This sounds very much like a Sonic Youth song.

Pulsing electronic noses open up “Sometimes” (a My Bloody Valentine cover).  After a minute, feedback and chords come in.  The vocals are nicely buried an you can clearly hear this is Boris’ take on MBV.  It’s a slow drone wall rather than a wall of different sounds.

It segues into “Heavy Rain” (from Noise) which opens as just a series of electronic rumbles and feedback jamming until a pretty echoing chord comes in and Wata sings very quietly.   After a minute and a half big droning chords ring out.  Then its back to the quiet–whispered vocals and gentle echoing notes over a slow meandering bass.   It soars quietly like this until the last 44 seconds which returns to the noise of the opening.

“Akuma No Uta” (from Akuma No Uta) is full of washes of notes, drones and gongs.  Over the course of the 11 and a half minutes of this song, it morphs into loud distorted chords drones ending with a slow heavy two note riff that fades with gongs.

“Akirame Flower” (originally from Golden Dance Classics a split EP with 9dw that I don’t know) opens with watery noises and electronic beat before raw guitar and vocals come in.  This is a softer drone with a pretty guitar solo on top of the fuzz.  The last note rings out and segues into the distorted bent chords of “Vomitself.”

“Vomitself” is the heaviest thing here–heavily distorted chords pummel along while growled vocals creak though.  It’s remarkable how heavy it is with no drums.

[READ: February 5, 2021] “Jamaica”

In this story, a man who is not allowed to go to his wife’s book club, finds a way to be a part of it

Everett is the narrator and he tells us about his family.  His daughter Theresa is dating a man much older than her (of whom Everett disapproves highly); Thomas his son who was born blind.  TJ their dachshund is as much a part of the story as anyone else.  His wife, Jillian, hosts the The Gorgon Book Club.

The attendees are Theresa, Dorry Smith a semi-professional archer–right down to carrying a bow and arrow with her wherever she goes, Luce Winningham who has “a Peter Pan haircut and a perky disdain for wearing a brassiere.”  There’s also Gwen Kirkle who loves animals more than anything (and often brings conversations to a halt when she talks about them).  The final attendee is Abigail Van Roost.

Everett and Abigail dated in high school. Then she had a terrible accident.  Everett (out of cowardice) broke up with her and started dating Jillian.  Amazingly, Abby (who is in a wheelchair) is fine with the arrangement,  She is happily married herself now and treats young Thomas like a prince. (more…)

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