There’s a very thin line between repetition and hypnotism.
Boris walks that line.
Even stumbles over it every once in awhile. Thing is, this stuff is too concentrated on soundscaping to worry about such trivial matters. This isn’t music where melody reigns supreme. It’s music that lives, breathes, dies, and is defined by its ability to transcend the usual slew of refined, critical musical margins and digs into the surface of what drone music should
Boris is beyond doubt a band that is greater than the sum of its parts: Each musician comes together to form something far more mystical, elegant and distinctive: a mag
ician. Rather than commanding your attention, Boris steals
it from you like pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. This album in particular is the ambient, mellow counterpart to Boris’ other work: they reveal all their cards on this one folks, and let me tell you: they’re playing with a full deck.
Not that they don’t have any tricks up their sleeves; they do. The album begins with a bouncy, trippy, off-kilter dual guitar riff that repeats for almost the entirety of its 14-minute time span. While the riff echoes around the speakers, bouncing into one ear, around your brain and back out the other side, Boris begins swinging the pendulum that will mean certain entrancement, creating an extremely calm and comfortable feeling. Then, seemingly from nowhere, washes of grey static sweep you out of your daze, distorting the splotchy red that your vision has become and the ensuing mental vertigo of straddling the line between hypnosis and consciousness causes a vague, but palpable sense of floating through a strange tunnel where time exists only in theory and the music no longer resonates outwardly, but only inside your head, and the reverberated washes of noise overtake the previous calm and the sound waves surround you, suffocate you, resound inside your body while you push your way through the spider webs of static, searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, searching desperately but not finding, as if the sound waves are no longer intangible but thick and inescapable drapery that block your vision, and the pendulum begins to swing in your mind and then your body falls to the floor…
But your mind continues to float on.
The second track begins with a dreamy, distant drumbeat, as if waking up from the previous delusion, but only inside the haze of your own psyche. It creates a calm and melodic dreamscape of an understated chord progression and wandering lead guitar lines; lines that draw the narrow path through the foggy mystification, but don’t force you down it. In that way, this record is what you allow it to be. When the final guitar lead pierces through and tension builds, we get a sense that this path might be leading us somewhere indeed.
We just took the scenic route.
The third track starts abruptly with the end of the lead guitar line from the previous track. While similar in atmosphere and feel to the previous piece (you might even confuse them for being the same, if you’re not paying attention), the momentum that this song kicks off with tells us that this is an entirely new monster altogether. Still very ambient with a whirling, windy keyboard line underplayed beneath a still, placid arpeggio, this particular piece introduces a new texture to the mix: vocals. Neither melodic nor harmonic, these mysterious, ethereal mantras invite us, taunt us into the climax we yearn for. Then, growing out of the fog comes a distorted guitar, like an indescribable silhouette of a beast drawing closer and closer until…he disappears. Did we imagine him all along?
Things get messy from there.
Half an hour into the album we see the first climactic moment. That should indicate what kind of music this is, and more importantly, what kind of listener it will appeal to. The album is really written as one epic song, separated into four sections, with the repetition of motifs and musical themes capturing the listener in moments of déjà vu, brilliantly filling the piece with an underlying unity. Almost more than any album, out of a handful that I know of that attempt it, this is like a soundtrack to a dream, like an invitation to the Wonderland of each of our minds. Yellow brick roads and talking rabbits, chaotic dinner parties, specters, spectrums of endless color all exist here on a plane that is less reality than it is conjured imagination.
That is Boris.