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Archive for the ‘Boris’ Category

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.

When you play them together, you get the drumless Boris with all of the glitching electronica of Merzbow sprinkled around it.  The songs are set up in a very clever way with one of Merzbow’s songs being exactly equal to two or three of the Boris songs.

I played the CD of Boris and the stream of Merzbow on Spotify.  It was cool to be able to raise and lower the volunme of one to change the intensity of Merzbow’s glitches.

Merzbow’s “Planet of the Cows” plays over the first two Boris songs “Farewell” and “Huge.”  Farewell’s quiet drone tacks on Merzbow’s squeals and glitches which fill in the gaps quite nicely.  When “Farewell” ends, the Merzbow continues until the loud gongs heavy chords of “Huge” ring out.  The Merzbow chaos sounds almost like a solo over the slow low heavy drone chords.  Atsuo’s low growling even complements the spare noises.  Both parts ends with squealing feedbacking sounds–analog from Boris and digital from Merzbow.

Merzbow’s “Goloka Pt. 1” plays over three Boris songs “Resonance” “Rainbow” and “Sometimes” (the My Bloody Valentine cover).  “Resonance” is mostly percussion–kind of randomly hit in a slow rhythm.  Merzbow’s noises sound like static in a distance echoing signal from outer space.  “Rainbow” is a piece I don’t know.  This version features Boris playing some quiet guitar and a grooving bass with Wata singing vocals. Merzbow’s electronics sounds restrained here, adding louder noises when the vocals back out  This song has some tasty soloing from Wata with the electronics almost keeping pace.  It segues into “Sometimes,” with its loud thumping echoes and eventual wall of noise.  The vocals are pretty well buried but you can hear the melody of the MBV song.

“Goloka Pt.. 2” plays over “Heavy Rain” and “Akuma No Uta.” “Heavy Rain” starts out with noisy stabs of sound–it’s actually hard to tell who is making what, but then things mellow out as Wata sings.  The guitars drone loudly and the vocals mix in with the electronics.  It ends with the noisy guitar buzzing from Boris while the noises from Merzbow continue between songs–sounds of noise and electronic bleeps.  “Akuma No Uta” starts slowly with washes of guitar build up. The glitching Merzbow adds keeps it from being purely a drone.  The drone gets louder and louder and I like the way Merzbow’s glitches seem to back off as the man riff enters the song.  As it nears the end, glitching sounds to me like a menacing voice coming through the static and heavy riffage.

The final song is Merzbow’ “Prelude to a Broken Arm” which plays over “Akirame Flower” and “Vomitself.”  It starts out with watery sounds before the big chords and vocals kick in.  Merzbow’s noise is like a screaming train underneath the slow crooning.   The main riff from Wata has some electronic percussive sounds tacked onto it.  As the final chord rings out the song segues into the musch noisier “Vomitself.”   It introduces a huge wave of low chords as Merzbow’s noise amps up to correspond with a lot of low growling percussive sounds. As the song rumbles to an end the squealing intensifies like feedback added on top of the roar with the last notes sounding like a person raging.

It’s interesting how I don’t really like the Merzbow tracks, but how they add interesting textures to the Boris songs.

[READ: February 19, 2021] Caliente

Matu Santamaria is an Argentinian illustrator and his work is really stunning.

This book has a big warning: 18+ but it’s not fully explicit.  There are drawing of naked women and sex acts, but there’s only a few things that are NSFW.

Santamaria’s work is full of clean lines and and dramatic colors.  I really enjoy looking at it, regardless of the content.

This book contains a lot of his most recent work.  It seems to be split between positive messages about sexuality, body positivity and appreciation for frontline workers during the Coronavirus.  There’s also some celebrity pictures as well.

After some definitions of the word caliente, the book opens with series of pictures of women exploring the sexuality with each other.  Interracial women kissing and a woman taking her top off with the comment–“and without realizing it, it’s poetry.” (more…)

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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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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Vein (2006/2013).

Boris continues to reissue their back catalog in streaming format.  Which is pretty amazing since so much of their work is so hard to find.  Possibly not great for collectors, but great for those of us who actually want to hear the music.

Vein is Boris’ thirteenth album.  Because they are Boris, the released two different albums under the same title in 2006.  The packaging was identical on both records and the only way to tell them apart was to check out the surface of the vinyl itself.

The “Hardcore version” had punk, hardcore, and drone.with vocals that are screamed rather than sung.  The  “Noise version” had drone and noise music as well as punk. This version of the album does not include any vocals.

In 2013, the band announced that the album would be released as a 2-CD set not as a reissue, but rather a re-arrangement of both albums combined.

Given all of this, it’s not even entirely clear to me what has been released her on bandcamp.  But it seems like the first two tracks (here labeled “v” and “e” are the hardcore version.  The third and fourth tracks “i” and “n” are a little harder to place.

“v” is 14 minutes long, broken up into several small pieces:

It starts with a wall of noise–static and low feedback swirling and manipulated until 4.01 when it segues into segues into ringing bells and effects that sound like a jet taking off and broken glass swirling and zipping around.   Then some drums and chords are introduced.   At 6:15, there’s a samples from the 1979 film Stalker, by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. A man says “И пусть посмеются над своими страстями” (Russian for “Let them laugh at their own passions”) followed by a blistering hardcore song  until 7:52.  After an abrupt halt comes the next screaming hardcore song which is more fuzz than chords with screams and feedback which at 9:06 segues into another super fast song which is distinguished from the others because of a riff where the chords go up and up higher and higher and faster as if they are going to explode, although it rumbles unto feedback at around 10:24 when a new tone of fuzzy nose feedback and a much slower introductory opens before before the pummeling hardcore resumes until 12:03.  This first song ends with a moment of silence and then a woman saying “unpleasant dreams” before a Wata fast high note solo is balanced by slow pummeling chords and drums and cymbals. After a minute or so, the hardcore returns this time with a solo all over the top of the song.  The song ends with a humming and what sounds like car keys jingling

“e” is over 15 minutes long and is one third hardcore punk and two thirds slow lengthy drone.  It starts with an Atsuo scream and hardcore drums. There’s a blistering hardcore song–fast riffage and screamed lyrics (which I assume are in Japanese).  Although the hardcore songs sound similar (and are unnamed) the riffs are distinctive enough to tell them apart.  Some backwards masked sounds come in at 1:05 and a similar riff at 1:15.  I have never seen them play this kind of set–it must be exhausting.  At 2.01 a loud bass comes in with a lot of cymbals and the song is buried under a blanket of distortion.  two minute song starts with.  At 3:04 a buzzsaw sound and a cool riff is coupled with some intense screaming.  At 4:45 it morphs into feedback that contains another sample from an Andrei Tarkovsky film, this time the 1986 film, The Sacrifice.  A man say “I hela mitt liv har jag väntat på det här. Hela mitt liv har varit en enda väntan på det här.” (Swedish for “All my life I’ve been waiting for this. My whole life has been a long wait for this.”)  The rest of the song feels like it might stay a lengthy drone, but at 5:46 after some cracks of the snare, a slow powerful Boris riff emerges.  But the riff dies away for some slow Wata soloing over droning chords.

Track 3 is probably the “noise version” (which is 17 minutes long) or the 2013 re-release (which is 17:25) but this track is 18:04.  Of course, if the “noise” version has no vocals, it can’t be this because it does have vocals.

It opens with a similar kind of noise that opens “v” but more staticky and with distant riffing going on.  At 1:58 a riff comes in.  The songs are like “v.”  A shorter version of the jet sounds are followed by some slow heavy chords.   At 3.22 there’s some chirping feedback that introduces the first hardcore song in “v.”  At 5.22 [#4 above] segues into a scream-filled hardcore song followed at 6:14 by the riff that goes higher and higher.  At 7:36, there’s slow thumping with noise and feedback (this might be new and not on “v”) then a sudden drop off of sound and near silence before the screeching feedback that starts at 8:39 with a blistering hardcore song that sounds unlike anything before. There’s heavy fast riffing with a pause and a big scream before resuming.  At 11:50, warping sounds and a thundering drum compete with a really fast riff which sounds like the first part of “e.”  At 13:05 song 2 from “e” begins–short, fast and loud.  Then at 13:51 comes track 4 from “e” (there’s no track 3) with the buzzsaw opening. At 15.21 there’s some backwards recording which eventually becomes the guitar solo that ended “v,” although this time it’s just under 3 minutes long.

Track 4 is “n.”  Perhaps it’s the “noise version” as there are no words.    It’s 17:59 and is a noisy composition of drone and feedback.  There’s some heavy chords and some quieter moments.  The high soaring notes seem to fit in very nicely with the sludgy bottom parts.  About half way through it turns into a fast, heavy hardcoreish track with a lot of drums, but buried under a wall of feedback and distortion.

[READ: November 12, 2020] The Little Buddhist Monk

The Little Buddhist Monk (written 2005) has been bundled with The Proof (written 1989) into one book.  Both stories were translated by Nick Caistor.

The Little Buddhist Monk is an absolutely bizarre, borderline stream of consciousness story.  It jumps from topic to topic like a fever dream and resolves itself in an even more unexpected way.

The story opens with us meeting the little monk who would very much like to leave Korea (where he was born and where he studied). But he has no money and no reasonable expectation for ever emigrating.  

Then one day a French photographer, Napoleon Chirac, and his wife Jacqueline Bloodymary (!) happened in his path.  They were on vacation and spoke French to each other.  The monk knew French and joined in the conversation.  They were delighted to meet a fellow French speaker in such a foreign land.  He imagined that they could be his ticket out of Korea.  So he decided to help them throughout the day.

They talk a lot about art.  Napoleon photographs empty rooms with a 360 degree camera and then splices it together as one image.  He has traveled the world filming places and he is looking to do a Korean monastery.  What luck, the monk can take them to a good one. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-tears e.p. (2019).

Boris tends toward being a very heavy band.  Their two recently albums D.E.A.R. and NO are some intense heavy metal.  They also do a lot of noise and heavy drone.  But they are not afraid of melody.  And they are not at all afraid to make pretty, dancey music.

There are five songs.  The first song “どうしてもあなたをゆるせない (doushitemoanataoyurusenai)” is on the disc twice.  The first version of this song is a remix by Narasaki under his name “Sadesper.”  It opens with a grooving bass line and some pretty guitars.  The drums are metronomic and there’s a sprinkling of keys.  I’m not sure who sings, but there’s a lot of falsetto. I love how just before the chorus there’s some orchestra hits.  It’s pretty much a full on dance song and it suits them perfectly.  You’d never guess it was Boris, but it makes sense once you realize it.  It even ends with a nifty guitar solo that sadly fades out.

“u fu fu” opens with a fast simple guitar chugging riff.  After a good ol’ “Whoo!” from Atsuo, the song pulses forward on the insistent grunted  “ooh ah” that works as a foundation to the song.  There’s a lots of great backing vocals in each ear. With about a minute to go, the bass takes over with a fast, heavy rumble before the harmonizing vocals kick in.

Up next is a fantastic cover of a Coaltar of the Deepers song “To the Beach.”  I didn’t know Coaltar of the Deepers before this release, but I have listened to them a bunch since and they are a terrific Japanese band unknown in the States.  I’m not sure how much this differs from the original , but this version is fantastic–slow and moody with lots of build and release.  The song starts with a pretty guitar melody and then a series of crashing chords and cymbals while Wata’s guitar soars.  The verses are slow with a whispered vocal.  But the choruses resume the crashing chords to punctuate things perfectly.  In the middle of the song as the vocals overlap and blend, it sounds magnificent.

“Peaches” comes next, it’s a 2 minute song sung by Wata.  A pulsing bass line propels the song forward as Wata chants the the word “peaches” over and over with an occasional “la la la” fleshes things out.  A repeating piano is added for a bit and then a shift to a kind o funky bass line that leads to the end of the songs.  It’s only two minutes long and kind of goofy but I wish it was longer.

The disc ends with an instrumental version of “どうしてもあなたをゆるせない.”  The song is so catchy and wonderful that hearing it a second time in the EP is a great thing.  It’s one of the few instrumentals that I think might sound better than the original because you can really hear what the musicians are doing–and its some great stuff.

[READ: October 29, 2020] The Ten Loves of Nishino

I have a stack of books waist high next to my desk which I intend to read.  And yet, I continue to find new (to me) books that I jump in and read first.  This book was recommended by the most recent Tiny Desk Contest winner Linda Diaz.  Why on earth would I read a book recommended by a person I’d never heard of before?  She said it was her favorite book ever (which seems weird since it only came out in English last year, but whatever).  It was also pretty short.  So I decided to check it out.

I have enjoyed many of the Japanese writers that I’ve read, so I was intrigued to read a contemporary female author (this book was translated by Allison Markin Powell).

So this book is written in ten chapters–each one written by a lover of Nishino, an enigmatic figure whom we only learn about from the women writing about him.

There is something strangely seductive about Nishino that these women find hard to resist.  He is aloof and puzzling, but that seems to make women want him even more.  But he is perpetually with women (more than these ten, it would appear). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-“warpath” (2015).

Back in 2015, Boris released three albums on the same day all under the “new noise literacy” banner: “urban dance” “warpath” and “asia” [according to their label numbers, this is the order they go in].

All three records are experiments in abrasive noise.  Despite the adorable child on the covers, these records will scare children.

This album has four songs, all of which are variations on drone.

“Midgard Schlange” is 11 minutes of heavy distorted chords played slowly, as they ring out and rumble.  Its a a sort of seven-note melody but stretched out impossibly long.  At around 5 and a half minutes the electronics start to fade in from far away.  The first time I listened to the song I thought an airplane was flying overhead as these sounds came in.  These sounds eventually resolve into chords that acts as a kind of counterpoint to the guitar drones. It’s relatively fast tempoed for a drone song, but it still long and stretched out.

“Behind the Owl” continues the drone, but in a different way. There aren’t pummeling guitar chords that ring out.  Rather, they are just quietly building distortion waves, pulsing in and out.  It’s rather understated, a low menace that seems to cycle slowly between two notes.

The wonderfully named “Dreamy Eyed Panjandrum”starts with a kind of staticky electronic pulsing with occasional glitchy percussion sounds.  It sounds like somebody doing light construction for about 8 minutes.

The guitars come back on “Voo-vah,” and ominous ten and a half minutes of dark rumbling.  This time, the guitars are low and ringing, with waves of pulsing bass and stretched out chords. Around 8 minutes some higher-pitched notes come in, almost sounding like ghosts in the night.  Closing credits to a nightmare.

The album is credited to: takeshi: guitar, bass / wata: guitar & echo / atsuo: electronics.

[READ: November 5, 2020] “Sitting with the Dead”

I really enjoyed the way this story revealed its details.

It begins with an old, sickly man asking to go out to his barn. It was winter and he wore only his pajamas and a winter coat.  A week later, the doctor assured his wife Emily that that’s not what killed him–it didn’t even hasten the inevitable.

At half past seven on the day he died, the Geraghty sisters knocked on her door.  They were two middle-aged women who sat with the dying.  They were known in the area although Emily didn’t know them personally.  They had heard that her husband was dying and they came to sit with him, but they were too late.

Emily laughed to herself at how much he would not have wanted these two there to sit wit him.  He was not religious and he would have said that their sitting with him had an ulterior motive. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-“urban dance” (2015).

Back in 2015, Boris released three albums on the same day all under the “new noise literacy” banner: “urban dance” “warpath” and “asia” [according to their label numbers, this is the order they go in].

All three records are experiments in abrasive noise.  Despite the adorable child on the covers, these records will scare children.

This album has five songs, two of which actually take a break from the relentless noise that’s present on “asia.”

“Un, deux, trois” (French for “One, Two, Three”) starts out with a series of distortion bursts, a beat of distortion coupled with a wall of noise that follows up.  It’s harsh and unwelcoming.  But at just over 4 minutes it’s one of the shorter noise compositions on these three discs.  Around three minutes it sounds like distorted electronic balloons being manipulated and then the air let out.  The noise drops of for the last seven seconds before the next song starts.

“Surrender” is pretty much the only thing resembling a proper song on these discs.  It’s got bass, drums, guitar and vocals.  It’s also got a melody.  The overall feeling is one of shoegaze and the melodies, both guitar and vocal are really pretty.  Although this being an album of noise, it couldn’t help but add a hugely noisy field of distortion to the middle of the song almost as an instrumental break.  There’s a second distortion interruption in the song that lasts long enough to make it seem like maybe there’s no more music.  But the song returns, keeping that melody until the end.

“Choreographer” is nearly nine minutes long.  It starts with a rumble and electronic feedbacking.  There’s some soaring sounds buried in the rumble–some lead guitar notes (feedbacking) that add a little structure to the noise; at times it sounds like a guitar trying to fight its way out of a pile of noise.

“Endless” is a little different than the other songs.  It has a bit more of a drone feel than a noise and distortion feel.  It’s still a wall of sound, but rather than a low rumble of noise, it’s more like high notes feeding of of each other.  After three minutes it feels like a distant dreamy melody is soaring in from afar.  A couple minutes later some drums come in, a militant beat putting some tempo to the rest of the sounds.  With about four minutes left, a series of four drum hits with a cymbal add a nice regular pattern to the song–making the drums an almost catchy element because of its consistency.  The end of the song has a bit more notable percussion until it drops out and the song fades on its own.

“Game of Death” is even longer at over 11 minutes.  It starts with sharp feedback and low pulsing space sounds full of distortion and noise.  But after a minute it turns into a full on raging distortion fest.  It feels like maybe two or more different sources of distortion rumbling in and playing atop the other ones.  About midway through, a higher-pitched distortion comes in and swirls around.  But for the most part it’s a relentless barrage of noise, with some interesting new (but still noisy) sounds in the last minute.

The album is credited to: takeshi: guitar, bass & vocals / wata: guitar & echo / atsuo: drums & electronics.

[READ: November 1, 2020] “Hungry Self”

I’ve noted that I rather enjoyed Rebecca Curtis’ more recent stories, so I was disappointed by how much I didn’t really like this one.

As I think about it there was nothing bad about it, it just felt a little flat and mean-spirited without much more.

The narrator is working at a Vietnamese restaurant.  She is a waitress.  She likes the boss’s son; he thinks she is disgusting.  One of the chefs likes her.  He has no teeth and sells cocaine in the basement.  She snorts with him but nothing else.

She noticed that a customer who sat down was her former therapist. The woman gave “the smile you give a waitress if you’re the kind of person who is nice to a waitress.”

Her ex-psychiatrist was overweight and this issue had caused them all trouble.  Initially, the waitress’ whole family was seeing the psychiatrist together and the waitress’ father commented about her weight.  He asked the waitress how much she thought the psychiatrist weighed and the waitress replied 260.  The psychiatrist insisted that they be seen individually from then on.

The next time, when the waitress was alone, the psychiatrist told the waitress about Harry’s Diet Pretzels which she now ate all the time.

The psychiatrist was very nice, but the waitress didn’t want that.

I wante a shirtty tip so I could have a reason for hating the fat ugly lesbian, a reason other than that she had once seen me cry.

The psychiatrist and her lover ordered lo mein (noodles in oil–food that the fat woman definitely did not need) and egg drop soup (the soup most likely to have a roach at the bottom).

When the psychiatrist left, the tip was good, “so as to say ‘We like you’ but not too good so as to say, ‘We feel bad for you obviously.'”

I wanted more to happen here.  Oddly enough I couldn’t tell where the story was set.  I initially thought Vietnam, but that doesn’t make sense.

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-“asia” (2015).

Back in 2015, Boris released three albums on the same day all under the “new noise literacy” banner: “urban dance” “warpath” and “asia” [according to their label numbers, this is the order they go in, but I’m posting them out of sequence].

All three records are experiments in abrasive noise.  Despite the adorable child on the covers, these records will scare children.

This album has three songs.

“Terracotta Warrior” Runs for 20:38.  It opens with quiet, slow rumbling–almost inaudible for the first 30 seconds or so.  Then the pulsing sounds start bubbling up under a hissing, mechanical sound.  Around seven minutes the rumble stays pretty steady, but the higher noises–hissing, clanging, horror movie sounds, start to grow more intense.  At 8 minutes, some discernible guitar chords ring out (heavily distorted, but clearly guitars).  It turns into a lengthy drone with squeaky feedback noises throughout.  At 17 and a half minutes the feedback gets louder and louder until it abruptly cuts off and after moment of silence distance guitars start ringing out again.  There’s even the first sign of drums (a gentle hi-hat).

“Ant Hill” is half as long, but similar is tone.  It is primarily pulsing electronics and high pitched squealing electronic manipulation.  There’s also some digital glitching sounds. After 8 minutes the song fades to a pause only to resume a few seconds later with some more digital glitching and manipulation.  With 30 seconds to go, a drum beat comes in and the distortion takes on a more melodic sound including what sounds like someone sawing in the distance.

“Talkative Lord vs Silent Master” is also ten minutes long and it is the most unpleasant of the three songs.  It is full on static and noise with what sounds like a monstrous voice growling in the distance.  By the end of the song it sounds like being in the middle of a howling winter storm.  And as it closes up there is some serious digital glitching.  Not for the sensitive of hearing.

The album is credited to: takeshi: guitar & bass / wata: guitar & echo / atsuo: drums & electronics.

[READ: January 19, 2017] “The Very Rigid Search”

Jonathan Safran Foer has become something of a more serious writer over the last few years, so I’m alway happy to read one of his earlier funnier works (himm, that sounds familiar).

This story is written from the point of view of a Ukrainian tour guide named Alexander Perchov.  He is writing this tale in English, although his English is slightly off (as the title hints at).  He speaks very good English, but his word choices often eschew idioms for literal translation (and much hilarity ensues).

Alex’s family own a Ukrainian branch of an international travel agency and it is his job to pick up and translator for an American traveller.

Alex refers to the traveler as the “hero” of the story.  And the hero’s name is Jonathan Safran Foer.

Jonathan Safran Foer is not having shit between his brains  He is an ingenious Jew.

JSF was travelling from New York to Lutsk. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Archive Volume Zero “Early Demos” (2014/2020). 

In early August, Boris digitally released six archival releases.  Volume Zero is called “Early Demos” and it includes songs from when Boris was a four piece.

9 songs selected and compiled from 3 independently produced demo tapes, from the early period of Boris’s formation.  Track 1,2 from 1st Demo 1993 ; Track 3,4 from 2nd Demo 1993 ; Track 5-9 from 3rd Demo 1994.

(Originally released on March 5, 2014. Included in Archive 2, limited to 1,000 copies)

Boris had more of a hardcore sound at the time and these early demos are pretty wild.  Vocally, Atsuo was in prime screaming mode.  Because I don’t speak Japanese, I don’t know if he is just screaming of screaming words.  Either way, the result is intense.

Original drummer Nagata (who left soon after) plays on almost all of these songs.

“Loudd” opens the set with crashing guitars–a dramatic lengthy heavy metal opening.  Then comes the fast rumbling bass and grunted vocals.  Regardless of the other words, the chorus is a chanted “LOUDD!”  Atsuo plays drums on this one.

“AYA” has loud distorted bass with a simple guitar melody.  It’s a fairly traditional-sounding 90s grunge song.  Atsuo sings in kind of a creaky style rather than he usual screams.  “Spell Down” is nearly 5 minutes–quite long for these demos.  It’s got a  fast grungey riff with a hardcore underbelly.  This song has a middle section of jump drums ans slow droning chords.  This song also features an early Wata guitar solo.

“Nods” feels like a twisted call and response of groans and then vocals all set to a slow heavy riff.  They play a little with recording effects as midway through the song the band stops.  Then a disjointed guitar riff picks up in the left speaker before the whole band jumps in playing that same melody.

“Scar Box” opens with a riff that sounds like very early doom metal under the hardcore guitars and drums take over.  Atsuo is playing on this one and there are lots of cymbals (no gong yet, though).

“Mosquito” and “Matozoa” are both under two minutes long.  “Mosquito” plays with slow heavy chunky chords and “Matozoa” is more of a moshing song that’s mostly drums and vocals with an occasional crashing guitar chord.

“Deep Sucker” has a robust rumble with growled vocals and grungy guitars.  Then around two and a half minutes a feedback wail starts.  It continues for the next two and a half minutes.  The feedback changes tone and seems to almost fade out. It’s as if Wata (presumably) is trying to keep that feedback alive and interesting–making the note swirls around.  The feedback is accompanied by a low rumble and drums, but those fade out and the last 90 seconds are just feedbacking.  The feedback” segues into “Water Porch.”  A rumble enters this song and then the song turns into pure drone as occasional chords are played just to ring out allow nature to take over.  With a minute and a half left the fast drumming kicks in and the song turns into a blistering song with a decidedly hardcore riff and growled vocals.

The final 10th track, “Soul Search You Sleep”, was recorded in 1996 during Boris’s first tour of the US west coast [at Capitol Theater, Olympia, WA. Mar 1st & 2nd 1996], and has been brought out of a long slumber to complete Volume Zero.

“Soul Search You Sleep” is two chords, feedback and a lot of screaming.  This alternates with some fast sections of two chords, pummeling drums, and screaming.  Around four minutes Wata adds a  solo.  The last minute is thumping bass and drums and punctuated by Atsuo’s screams.  A Boris show has gotten more sophisticated in the last thirty years, but all of the elements were in place way back then.

Takeshi: Bass & Vocal ; Wata: Guitar & Echo ;  Atsuo: Drums & Vocal ; Nagata: Drums(Track 2,3,4,6,7,8,9)

[READ: August 25, 2020] “The Guardians”

This is a fascinating little short story.  It almost feels like a sketch for a character rather than a complete story.

As the story opens, Lee is a little boy.  He lives with “Grampop, Granny, Father and Lee’s mother who was too important to have a name.”

Each person gets a lengthy introduction–the calm, intensity of his grandparents, the kindness of his father (who should have had a better job) and the ups and downs of his mother. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BORIS-Archive Volume Five “Pink Days” (2014/2020). 

a0153819288_16In early August, Boris digitally released six archival releases.  Volume Five is called “Pink Days” and it is the best sounding of the bunch.

This show was recorded live in New York on May 31 during Boris’s 2006 US tour.  PINK had just been released and the band played 7 selections from the album.  But they also played two classics from Akuma No Uta and, one from Dronevil and a track from The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked (or Mabuta No Ura depending on which version of the song they play).

This show

 transmits wild enthusiasm; the songs in this full set recording could even be called their greatest hits.
(Originally released on March 5, 2014. Included in Archive 2, limited to 1,000 copies)

The set opens with four songs from Pink.  The first is “Blackout” which serves as a noisy introduction for what’s to come–feedback, squeals, waves of noise and Atsuo’s gong.  As the songs settles in around 7 minutes, Wata takes some soaring solos while Atsuo pounds away on the drums and Takeshi plays some super heavy bass lines.   Atsuo adds some vocals and a big YEAH! before the band starts “PINK,” with its fast, heavy riff and more soaring guitars.  Atsuo sings the melody as the song speeds along.  “Woman on the Screen” continues the fast heaviness with two and a half minutes of pummeling guitars and drums.  “Nothing Special” is two more minutes of blistering noise with lots and lots of YEAHs!

A quick jump to the Akuma No Uta album for the riff-tastic “Ibitsu” before returning to Pink for the two minute “Electric.”

Boris has two songs called “A Bao A Qu.”  Apparently they are entirely different.  I gather that this one is from the Mabuta No Ura album and not The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked (that version is over 8 minutes long and this one is about 4).  It’s heavy and dense with a lot of slow vocals and screaming solos.

Things finally slow down for the 15 minute “the evilone which sobs” from the Dronevil album.  This is a solid drone song–waves of low end feedback pulsing throughout the concert hall.  After four minutes of ringing, Wata plays a slow four note melody.  About half way through the song, a new melody enters–both Takeshi and Wata play different parts while Atsuo smashes the cymbals.   By nine minutes the two parts have more or less melded and the four note melody returns with the powerful backing of Takeshi.  The last five minutes show Wata whaling away on her guitar creating soaring textures and sounds.

The feedbacking end segues into the title track from Akuma no Uta.  This five minute instrumental features a lot of gong and a lot of cymbals as the slow riff unfolds. Until about half way through when the song takes off with a wicked riff and lot of whiooping from Atsuo.

For the last two songs the band returns to Pink.  Up first is the the ten minute “Just Abandoned My-Self” which is a simple, fast singalong (if only you could figure out the words).  The last five or so minutes lead the song into a droning outro–feeback and noise–that abruptly shuts off to wild applause and Atsuo telling everyone that there’s one more song.

The last song is the opening track from Pink called “Farewell.” It starts slowly with a pretty guitar riff.  It’s a really catchy song with a great melody.  Atsuo’s soaring vocals at the end are a nice capstone to a great show.

[READ: August 15, 2020] “Nobody Gets Out Alive”

I didn’t really like the way this story unfolded.  It started out intriguingly enough: “Getting past the mastodon took planning.”

The mastodon skull was in the middle of the room where a coffee table might normally be.  The setting is a house in Alaska, being used for a wedding party.

The newly married couple are Carter and Katrina.  They are in Alaska visiting Katrina’s father.  His neighbor Neil decided to host this wedding party for them.  Its apparent that he and Katrina used to date (or maybe wanted to) a long time ago.

They went to Alaska because Carter had never been there.  Nor had he met her father (in fact they’d only met each other a year ago). But Katrina’s father is very dull–he eats the same meal every night, he watches the same shows every night and he doesn’t even want to go to the wedding party. (more…)

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