Boris - Attention Please / Heavy Rocks
Few bands are as confusing or frustrating to follow as Japanese noisemongers Boris; with more stylistic changes than a Milan fashion show and up to four versions of each new release, this is a band that demands a hardy following. Over the more recent years, they have settled somewhat (as much as they ever could) into two distinct styles, akin to the BORIS/boris separation of their early period, and so are simultaneously unleashing a pair which neatly surmises both halves.
The first of this double act is the dreamlike Attention Please, which sees Boris once again joined in the studio by guitarist Michio Kurihara, now a frequent addition to the band’s live shows since their first collaborative effort Rainbow. This album very much continues along those ethereal notes, the laid-back pop punctuated by squalls of feedback and the odd rush of blood. It is also worth noting that this is the first album of theirs to be entirely sung by diminutive guitarist Wata; her hushed tones barely emerge above the many layers and creating an intimacy that is not often associated with Boris, bringing to mind images of a geisha whispering quietly in the ear.
Attention Please suffers slightly from this unhurried and vaguely soporific approach, much as Rainbow and their predecessor Sound Track From Film Mabuta No Ura as it drifts by without overly troubling the listener; particularly in the middle it all becomes a tad dull as the likes of ‘Tokyo Wonder Land’ and ‘You’ barely register or get even a foot tapping. But there are indeed some cracking tunes here too, none more so than the driving single ‘Hope’ and the groovy ‘Spoon’ pulling a surprise at the end. The title track itself that opens the album is probably the highlight though, a beautifully open piece that just goes to show Boris aren’t all about noise as the guitars gently play around with hints of melody whilst the vocals seep peacefully into the subconscious. [6/10]
On the other hand, we have Heavy Rocks; once again showing Boris’ love of being awkward, they released an album of the same name back in 2002, and visually the only distinction being the cover in purple rather than the original orange. As the name suggests, this leans more towards the band’s heavier output, although not all the way through to the monstrous drones of yore. Packed with Wata’s raucous riffs and mental battering courtesy of Atsuo, it also marks something of a return to form after more recent diversions.
Focused around the punkier elements best portrayed on Pink, it is the magnificent ‘Missing Pieces’ that forms the centrepiece of Heavy Rocks; a slice of vintage Boris, it goes through sparse build ups rising to the full-on feedbacking drones they do best and back again in twelve glorious minutes, including the most delectable descending guitar line that sends shivers down the spine as it surfaces out of the noise and takes due prominence.
Typically, the vinyl version of ‘Missing Pieces’ is an extended one (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about the band), though in what manner is currently a mystery to this scribe, having only the digital version. The final track, ‘Czechoslovakia’, also gets a similar treatment, and I am sure will peak the curiosity of many as the 90 odd seconds on this copy is a blisteringly heavy blast of manic thrash that leaves you wanting more - a lot more. [8/10]