Sound Colour Vibration Reviews : Heavy Rocks & Attention Please
This is the year of Boris. The Tokyo based trio has dropped a monolith of heavy liquid sound into international eardrums this year. By simultaneously releasing the studio length albums Attention Please and Heavy Rocks through the Los Angeles based Sargent House label Boris has breached the confines of expectations twice over.
Boris rose up from the Japanese hardcore scene of the early 90′s and in 1996 began their journey towards their current incarnation by creating record after record steeped in noise and doom. They have stacked new sonic reverberations onto each release since and after nearly two decades their unholy totem has climbed to the heights of 17 studio albums. Each album experiments with facets of drone, metal, and all things grunge and grime. With Attention Please and Heavy Rocks Boris pulls the curtains even further back to reveal a passion for electropop, shoegaze, punk, and j-pop.
Still, Heavy Rocks is in no way titled in irony. Album opener “Riot Sugar” grinds straight into a metal riff that steadily brutalizes. In fact, honorary Boris member and The Cult singer, Ian Astbury, adds weight to the track with his best Morrison/Danzig wail. Astbury’s collaboration with the Japanese droners goes back at least a couple years and has been previously covered by SCV. “Leak-Truth, yesnoyesnoyes-” lies furthest away from all past and present Boris Tracks. The dreaminess is there, in the swooning vocals, the buzzing bass, and in guitarist Wata’s swirling handiwork, but the energy is pulled to a level of spaciousness that introduces a sense of lucidity atop the distant mumbling of radio chatter. On another hand, “GALAXIANS” plays like a missile careening off course, burning hot with radiation. But this isn’t by any means a loud/quiet/loud formula record. After the punk sensible “Jackson Head”, Boris brings the cut-down sound of “Missing Pieces” to a thundering crescendo wavering in emotion. They’ve displayed their mastery of ambiance before, on albums like Pink and Amplifier Worship, but during the second half of Heavy Rocks its more accessible aspects are sent into a maelstrom. This is where it pays off to be paying attention, where the meat of Heavy Rocks lies. In the 12 minute epics “Missing Pieces” and “Aileron” as well as the albums two shortest tracks, “Key” and “Czechoslovakia”, the glam and grime prevalent in Heavy Rocks’ first handful of songs becomes a psychedelic darkness that sinks deep into glistening sludge metal.
Boris began putting together both Heavy Rocks and Attention Please following their tour for Smile in 2008 and had supposedly laid the finished tracks aside for some time until returning to form them into their present state. Reworking completed material reinvents their means of expression by transforming the music itself. In fact the title Heavy Rocks is the same as Boris’ 2002 album release. One that shares an identical album cover in fact, only with an orange color scheme in place of 2011′s purple. A fitting statement for a group dedicated to constant reincarnation.
Boris’ simultaneous release, the ballsy Attention Please, is a beast of its own merit. Where Heavy Rocks marinates in brooding sludge Attention Please rises and drips of shoegazing resonance. Guitarist Wata lends her voice to every piece but the instrumental “Aileron”, a track restyled on Heavy Rocks. What takes place, vocally, is a female dominated album most noticeably an extension of trip hop by way of Portishead and Massive Attack. The instrumentals, upon opening with the title track, release strong hi-hat work that leads a bass-heavy beat and gurgling guitar. Wata’s vocals hang suggestively in the air until she takes one final gasp before the dizzying noise rock of “Hope”, a track that will fit strikingly well on any Sonic Youth playlist. The album plays like an aural sampler of new directions and possibilities. The thick buzz of “Party Boy”, the drug-slowed tick of both “See you Next Week” and “Tokyo Wonder Land”, and the sonar drift felt in “You” crafts an echo chamber within Attention Please, making it the loveliest Boris has sounded. “Les Paul Custom ’86” and “Spoon” kick up a playful tide of cosmic dust and glitter while closing track “Hand In Hand” drifts quietly into hushed twangs. There is always a need for rest after one experiences an awakening. Boris, after two simultaneously released albums with Sargent House and two Japanese releases earlier this year should be no exception. Only they are the exception; expect to catch the tireless Boris on their upcoming US tour. This year is far from over. – Nick Bernal (AND HERE’S A LINK TO THE TOUR DATES: borisheavyrocks.tumblr.com )