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Boris / Merzbow

A unique listening experience - 80%

kluseba, September 23rd, 2012

After three years without any new studio album, the experimental Japanese band Boris decided to release a total of four new records within one single year, starting with this release of a brand new collaboration between the three open-minded musicians and the legendary Japanese noise icon Merzbow. I have in fact stumbled over this record because I discovered this unique and quite hard to digest artist one year ago when I made a radio show about Japanese music. I was intrigued by the artist's post-apocalyptic ambient projects and the high amount of releases and decided to try out one of his project with an entire band. As I expected, the final result we get in here is more accessible than Merzbow's desperate, disharmonic and dystopian solo stuff but it really is not by much. Only a few people might eventually like this kind of music.

Don't expect any gripping guitar riffs, coherent song structures or catchy hooks. This is an experimental and sometimes progressive ambient record with atmospheric space sounds and only the two longer tracks include a few minutes of vocals. The musical changes are mostly only slight and one gets to hear a lot of hypnotizing repetition where small elements get more and more integrated to the backbone of a track. The songs are all quite slow and clearly doom influenced but still have some rhythm orientated parts after all.

It needs a lot of patience for many to sit through the entire record. The best way to approach this album is to lay down on your bed with your headphones on and let you inspire by the music. You will soon have all sorts of images on your mind with all the disturbing noises, the laid back guitar chords, some highly distorted guitar sounds, the dark and pumping bass guitar and the minimalist drumming. This release would be a perfect soundtrack for a post-apocalyptic and surreal video game or movie. In my opinion, it's atmospheric enough to feel gripping and strange enough to remain intriguing until the end. It's definitely a unique kind of listening experience. You either hate or love it. I love it but definitely only in small doses. That's how I orientated my final rating even though it's quite hard to give any rating at all to this unusual kind of music.

Imagine a mixture of Senmuth's most experimental works with the distorted sound of a band like the German electro punk rebels Mono für alle! and some doom influences from early Black Sabbath plus a little experimental or even industrial Voivod touch. As strange as this sounds, I think that this description is actually quite accurate. If you like the mentioned bands and if you're used to stuff like Ebony Lake and UneXpect, you should not miss this album. Anybody else should try this at her or his own risk but have the courage to just try it out at least.