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By: Boris Alonso

It is not often that a rock venue seeps of mythic resonance, as was the case November 29th at the Empty Bottle where prolific Japanese rockers Boris harnessed it at will.  It is very easy, maybe even commonplace now, to dismiss ‘loud’ music as heavy-handed.  But careful listening unearths a magic in Boris’ songs that is lost to the impatient.  It is even probable that the trio—formed by Takeshi (lead vocals + rhythm/bass guitars), Atsuo (drums/vocals) and Wata (electric guitar)—intentionally utilizes its tsunami of noise to weed out the aurally dispossessed.

Smile (2008 - Southern Lord)

The show started with the swelling of a gong as a plume of fog blanketed Boris and Michio Kurihara, who is accompanying the group on second guitar in their tour.  As the buildup of ambience filled the stage, Boris remained silent.  Hoots from the crowd urged them on to no avail.  The band paused as they seemed to conjure up the musical spirits needed to escort them on this journey.  Once ready, the group let out the chime-like guitars that adorn Farewell, the opening track to their noteworthy album Pink.  A track titled “Farewell” does not seem the likely choice for an opener, but the mood it harnesses makes it a worthy pick.  Two relentless head-bangers followed in the forms of Buzz-in from their new Smile album, and the great Pink.

A crowd favorite, Rainbow, brought some peace about halfway through.  It was fitting to have Michio onstage, seeing as how the track is from the Boris album he collaborated on.  The sweet lounge-y fabric of the song was perfectly coalesced with Wata’s sultry whisperings.  All eyes and ears were agape upon hearing the demons that Michio and Takeshi exorcized with their guitars mid song.  The shrill screams the instruments mustered grazed the realm of the mystical.  There were many a time one had to follow the fingers of either musician to believe that the sounds came from instruments.

If I had any qualm with the show it would be that Boris often delves into moments of excessiveness.  The last half hour or so seemed particularly plagued by rampant noise.  I understand that Boris has become defined by this—although this is probably sacrilegious since the group resents being pigeon-holed—but their best moments come at that fine-line between grandeur and excessiveness.  Take their wonderful epic-ballad You Were Holding An Umbrella.  The tick-tock beats that accompany the hushed melodies at the beginning are heartbreaking.  Then the piece rips down the middle into a volley of wailing protest.  At one point, Michio manipulated his sound into a melody reminiscent of TV static.  This was easily the highlight of the night—a performance that carefully remained surefooted on the fine-line mentioned above.  If Boris had remained on this course throughout the show it would have been phenomenal.  Still, Boris is a band of great substance.  If you have no problem putting your ears through some suffering, attend their next performance.




All opinions expressed by Bogar Alonso are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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