A Look Back at…Boris – Boris at Last: -Feedbacker-

With every hipster on the block leveling complaint after complaint at the phallo-centrism and often guitar-wankery obsessed metal scene, you can level similar complaints toward the indie scene, with every would-be Nick Drake walking around town with A) an iPod blaring Kings of Convenience and B) A copy of Catcher in the Rye. The problems with waving the red flag at metal is the same problem as waving the red flag at any music scene; they all have a lot of shit in them. But it seems there’s been some overlap, with more open-minded types finding pleasure in Drone offerings like Sunn O))) or Earth.

Enter Boris, a band that can only loosely be called a “metal” band. More than any other band that can leap to mind, Boris are the arbitrators of evolution. Nothing about their sound is idiosyncratic to them alone, and yet no other band could have made any one of their releases. A constant shifting paradigm of Doom, Drone, Psychedelia, Hardcore Punk, Industrial, and some Black and Noise thrown in for good measure, these three cannot be kept up with. They’re just too inexhaustibly restless, releasing a collaboration with Sunn O))) one minute, a studio album the next, and then a single-print DVD edition. Let’s not forget their collaborations (yes, that’s plural) with fellow countryman Merzbow; when you collaborate with this man, you know you’re hitting the fringe of music’s borders.

They don’t always succeed, but they’ll be damned if they don’t try, and with their 2003 release Boris at Last: -Feedbacker-, they pay off big time. Now, this isn’t to say they weren’t doing great stuff in the past, God knows a few peeks into Amplifier Worship and Akuma no Uta will tear you to shreds in the best way possible, but it seems like they reached a place on Feedbacker where they said “You know what? Let’s make a single track that’s both accessible and challenging. Space it across 5 tracks, refine the drone, highlight the Sabbath and Melvins worship, and I think we’ll be good.” In Japanese of course.

To say this is them at their most-refined or that it’s their best album would be both short-sighted and narrow-minded; 2006’s Pink and previously mentioned Amplifier Worship and Akuma no Uta are sparkling sterling Doom silver. However, it seems like this is them with all the right trimmings and fat, it’s not all lean meat like the terrific Pink and it’s not all fat; it’s a nice ratio between long introductions and inevitable payoff. And does it ever pay off.

There are no tracks per se, but on the album, there are 5 “parts” of the bigger whole that is the single track “Feedbacker”. The first is all build-up, but it’s not suspenseful of provoking, it’s more introspective than that. It’s Drone and Sludge at their most accessible, yet the track is still 9 mintues long, but it’s never a boring 9 minutes. It’s thoughtful and in some places, quite beautiful. It’s all on from there, because at track 2, they hit the hyper drive and go nuts. Ambient textures are pushed to the background as a setting for all of the psychedelic guitar lines, shredding, excellent drum and bass work, and all over awesome Doom riffs.

Tracks 4 and 5 are a mixture of these two modes, with the rest of album constituting as the falling action, the calm after the storm. The ambient screeches of background tracks stay in the back, but the chaos doesn’t return; it’s 11 minutes of nervous static washes that serve as the album’s exit. It works very well, and after it’s over, it feels like 15 minutes have passed instead of 46.

That’s the way Boris work; they’re all about the pay-off. The most interesting parts are the most obvious, and yet the most beautiful parts are in the background. Sonic distortion and cymbal-bass drumming are the bookends of their shredding release, and while most would find them a bit long-winded, to dismiss them is to do them no justice. This is an experience as much as it is an album (although it’s not really much of an album per say either), one in which you sit down, close your eyes, focus on your ears, and sight back. When it’s slow, your thoughtful, when shit hits the fan, you’re tapping and air-strumming with, and when it comes back down, you open your eyes and realize that you were supposed to be at work 20 minutes ago. And that’s awesome.

by Trevor “Based on a true story” Johnson

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1 Comment

  1. Site Update: New Stuff! « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Nostalgia Tripping: Boris – Boris at Last: -Feedbacker- by Trevor Johnson […]

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