Boris Show Review by C.Rawls


In Baltimore a few weeks ago I finally saw Boris (Japanese trio on Southern Lord Records, I'm still kind of perplexed as to why more people in Raleigh aren't aware of this band, that could change though). Formed in the early '90's, their records tend to come out in America a year after they've already been available in Japan and up to this point I had seen very little in terms of interviews and photos of them. I just knew it sounded like Blue Cheer...well, Comets on Fire and Mudhoney could be cited as well and they named themselves after a Melvins song, but I would dare to say they sound more proto-metal than "grunge". They've collaborated in the past with Japanese sublime avant guitarist Keiji Heino. The production on their album Akuma No Uta is a beautiful, muddy, hissing masterpiece. The cover of the album is a take off of Nick Drake's Bryter Layter, their live presentation however came across as the antithesis of anything related to Nick Drake's spartan like aesthetics.
Stacks of Orange amps (even Prince has finally discovered the joy of the Orange amp), Sunn amps (heavy in sound and weight), and many effects pedals are employed. Guitarist Wata is a tiny woman who like Angus Young makes a regular sized guitar look gigantic. Bassist/guitarist/vocalist Takeshi employed a double neck bass/guitar combo Steinberger (that's a serious prog-metal connotation right there). Drummer/vocalist Atsuo has a gong! I do love gongs. But some of his antics put the entire presentation into a Tommy Lee realm...not a bad thing, just kind of a guilty pleasure perhaps.
Using a cordless, headset microphone, he often stands up, points at the crowd, yells "YEAH" a lot and is a total ham for the most part. Not a bad thing once again for a band who's two other members remain motionless, but it's just you know...kind of cheesy.
Thus bringing up the Masterpiece Theatre syndrome. Joe Carducci, though coming across as a bit of a homophobe, is rather dead on in his 1990 book Rock and the Pop Narcotic. Carducci often cites the Masterpiece Theatre syndrome wherein as with the old PBS Masterpiece Theatre series, movies of questionable merit were lauded simply because they were foreign yet just as unctuous as any American popcorn film, certain musical acts also seemed to get a free pass for being "foreign" (and let me add sports into that mix, with it being World Cup time I must say soccer is just another game with what appears to be even more obnoxious fans than one would find at a certain gynasium in Durham, NC....but hockey, that shit rules!)
Would Boris draw much of an audience with fans of acts like the Thrones and Growing (who shared the bill on this night in Balitmore) if they were white? Granted the Thrones (Joe Preston) employs a rather seriously dangerous looking heavy metal bass guitar with no tongue in cheek, but this was essentially an indie/punk (albeit in a grimey Baltimore guise) sort of audience that tends to smirk a bit towards metal (though if you like it, you like it, no reason to use irony as a crutch).
In the end, it's the aural element that wins. In spite of the visual spectacle bordering on late '80's prog metal (I personally don't care for it, but whatever floats your boat...and that could perhaps open Boris up to a different audience re: Dream Theatre fans), the shit rocks, I just wish the drummer would sit down.


Anonymous NW said...

allow me to agree and disagree, on different points.

in fact i think id go so far as to say that on the whole the japanese bands coming and blowing americans little minds is like so over,at least for this american. i submit dmbq. what the hell? poses and clothes, that's what.

dont know about this boris band but i imagine its probably along those same lines. although perhaps with a little more actual "music" to go with the poses and the clothes.

i liked it when like the ruins and the boredomes and hell even melt banana would play and have like, ideas and stuff in their music.

Also, football is rad. Hockey is fucking lame.

11:13 AM  

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