Boris with Michio Kurihara “Rainbow”
(Pedal Records) by Keith Boyd 01.31.07
Boris is a band with a deeply enigmatic approach to who they are and how they sound. On one album they come across as noisy, neo-grunge rock-n-roll messiahs. The riffs will be huge and craggy as a mountain range. Another album will be a pure noise affair with droning currents of voided out static. Occasionally they turn out a bliss-driven and oceanic painting of ambient sound wash. As if these frequent shifts in focus weren’t enough, they often put out 2-4 different versions of each album. Not just with different cover art mind you, but sometimes with completely different songs or at least different version of the songs.
To finalize the picture Boris often releases these versions in EXTREMELY limited edition runs that are instantly snapped up by their rabid following and usually turn into instant ebay fodder going for huge prices. What to make of all of this? Nothing really I suppose.
It’s just artists doing what artists always do, following the muse where it takes them and occasionally filling us in on what they find.
While many a talking head on the internet forums and blogasphere seem to take umbrage with their topsy-turvy output, I find Boris’s approach refreshing and brave.
We’re all such purists aren’t we? We want out of art something that really has nothing to do with either art or the artistic vision. That something is consistency. A consistency that seems to derive from the belief that if we can find something solid in our experiences of life then this validation can maybe hold at bay the awful prospect that the universe is simply an endless cycle of random chances with no safety net or meaning. The problem is, art doesn’t really play those games.
Nothing stands still for very long and it is in this ever-changing slip stream that the demand for conformity and uniformity strikes a sad yet loud chord. Infantile retreat in the face of the void is the opposite of what Hemingway meant by “Grace under pressure”. The true artist comes to this crisis and finds within both meaning and a means to work with it. For Boris, a big part of their response seems to be their mutability. While retaining some key elements most of their albums are Phoenix bonfires in which they gladly toss off old skin and start anew.
They’ve taken to heart the old Bob Dylan truism that, “He not busy being born is busy dying”.
On “Rainbow” Boris continues their string of successful collaborations. This time out they’ve teamed up with Japanese underground guitar legend Michio Kurihara. Kurihara has played with such luminaries as Marble Sheep, White Heaven and perhaps most notably, Ghost. His killer playing brings a fresh sound to the Boris sound and given the results this is a collaboration they might well wish to continue. THe Treat of this disc starts with the excellent packaging.
Heavy Stock paper with a creamy-gauzy finish is highlighted with indented rainbow metallic print and wonderful opaque photos. It’s always a pleasure when a group takes this kind of care with the tactile/visual part of what they’re up to. Other groups that come to mind in this arena are; Buzz or Howl, Hoor-Paar-Kraat and all of Scott Slimm’s releases on aRCHIVE. The music inside is a pleasure and challenge from start to finish. As mentioned above Boris gives us a variable glimpse of who they are on each album. Like the old tale of the blind men examining an elephant, each part gives a completely different impression of the whole. On “Rainbow” they do this on one album. There are rockers, “Narrador da espaconave”. There are noise feasts, “Doce No1” and there are floaters, “...e, eu quero” While the whole package is perhaps more above ground than some of their other stuff, this album is a welcome and enjoyable addition to their work.
Now the trick is for you, dear reader, to dive into the web and see if you can find this needle in a haystack! It probably won’t be easy.
Boris doesn’t make it a simple task to get a hold of their glorious releases. This fault is forgiven however when you do find them. The music is just that rich and rewarding.