You gotta love Boris. They’re one of those bands who are so consistently good at what they do that a sizable bulk of their fans will forever find themselves buying anything and everything they can get their hands on. Because of their penchant for limited releases and gorgeous packaging, plus the usual import price tag -- ouch, Boris collectors have it pretty rough no matter how you slice it.
While we cannot blame Boris for wanting to deliver the very best of their artistic capabilities in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible, it seems a shame that they seem to sacrifice the availability of their talents to the full scope of their fan-base. That being the case, I have to say, and please excuse the inherent perversity of the statement, God bless Southern Lord for bringing Boris accessibly and affordably to the states.
The band’s latest release, entitled Smile, is nothing short of what any Boris fan would expect from the genius rock-smiths the trio have proven themselves to be. For familiarized ears it is, neatly put, every Boris album you’ve ever heard divided by your four favorite Boris songs, figuring in new collaborations with Ghost’s Michio Kurihara and Stephen O’Malley of sunn0))). Sound redundant? Don’t be silly: Boris knows no redundancy when it comes to rocking your face off, nor any limits, for that matter.
It begins as a slow, menacing rumble, suggesting the gathering of thunder-clouds clamoring to assault your naked ears, but what follows is a rather straight cover of PYG’s "Flower Sun Rain," except that it sounds something like a watercolor interpretation of the song; it’s as if PYG’s original, decidedly heavy folk-rock song is a solid ink splotch which Boris deliberately drenches. The song bleeds its sound slowly, heart-wrenchingly, toward the alarmingly sudden gleeful sound of a little girl laughing and -- BOOM! -- just like that, we’re reminded that Boris began as a punk band. The “danger zone” triptych of "BUZZ-IN," "Laser Beam," and "Statement" seem to jive sonically with the fighter jet depicted in the cover art; the three songs writhe frantically and unpredictably as the players shred through one frenzy to the next, dredging up comparisons from G.B.H. to Venom with some ol’ fashioned, heavy “hair” metal thrown in for dirty-good measure. Here's the video for "Statement":
The track "My Neighbor Satan" is of a two-sided, schizoid temperament, turning from dreamy indie rock to grinding psychedelic abandon and back again; it also seems to function as a midway boundary for the record, as everything before it and after it is differs vastly in terms of sound, feeling and time. The closing pieces that follow are two sprawling compositions that bring a little more brimstone and bracken to balance out the treacle. The first of the two songs seems to take flight in total darkness, in the sense that it sounds like it's crashing and burning-- the image of the fighter jet once again comes to mind.
The final fifteen minutes weaves lilting guitars over mirror image reversals of sound, like a submerged bit of plane gently drowning in an icy grave without much of a struggle; it’s the closest to drone the album comes and it’s beautiful. Check out the video for "My Neighbor Satan!"
Last October, Boris played a live in-store performance at Amoeba in that practically melted everyone’s faces off in a haze of heaviness. (Check out pics from the event here!) We spoke to Atsuo, Boris' enthusiastic drummer and creative visionary, about what he wishes to express most to Boris fans everywhere. He said that in terms of connecting with their audience, “I want to improvise with the world, I want to improvise with our audience and through that create a good atmosphere that overflows with energy. I want to ultimately have fun with our fans and enjoy Boris together.” Perhaps that explains how the album got its name, good vibrations and all. Smile is one of the best records of the year, make no mistake, but it is a summer album, so get yours before the solstice for maximum rockage.
P.S. Boris are due to rock Amoeba Berkeley with a special after-hours instore June 22! Click here for more details!