BORIS Pink 2xLP

Music Reviews
BORIS Pink 2xLP
By Paul Mathew
Jun 13, 2007, 07:30

Boris is a band under constant evolution.  What typifies their sound varies from record to record, and given their voluminous output of sixteen albums (and counting), it's difficult to say where Pink fits in exactly to their oeuvre.  This eleven song, double LP finds Boris stretching sonic boundaries in some places while treading familiar ground in others. Pink is a major departure from their recent work with Merzbow.  Rather than simply revisiting the tense and bleak sonic sculptures that characterize this collaboration, Pink foregrounds many 80s and 90s indie-rock influences.  Pop sensibilities in the vain of Codeine and Seam merge into more dissonant, yet more familiar, earthy grooves pioneered by Glenn Branca, the Melvins, and Earth.  The record also seems like a deeply personal one—one that, at times, works to challenge assumptions of music as a communal experience.

“Farewell,” the album's opener, sounds like an homage to slowcore.  Soaring big guitars sparkle, crescendo, and disappear into shimmering melodies. Of all the songs from Pink, “Farewell” is the most melodic, yet the most strained, as if there's a sullenness and a longing not to let the album depart into its foray of sonic experimentation.

Another interesting touchstone is the title track, “Pink.” Riff-heavy with soaring, screeching guitars, the song is structured around tight and heavy grooves reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss.  Rhythmically it is very challenging.  Drummer Atsuo establishes enough aggressive variation, and the song feels less like an exercise in retro-grunge and more like an technical assault on the genre.

A strong counterpoint to “Farewell” and “Pink” is “Afterburner.”  More typical of the spacey and harder quality of Boris' earlier work, the song is dark and brooding—almost jazz-like with its loose structure. Posited in the middle of the album, the song seems to tie the record together.  It's a slow song built around sludgy, dark rhythms that demonstrate Boris' ability to draw the listener into an unfamiliar, and sometimes tense, environment.  The music broods as handclaps punctuate the swinging slow cadence.  The effect is strange; there's a ceremonial quality created, which at the record's darkest moments, comes off as a haunting invocation. Here the handclapping is anything but inviting.  It's as if you are entering into a space where a ritual has begun, though it is hard to tell if you should feel invited or threatened by it. In this way “Afterburner” is representative of the record as a whole; its overall effect is very claustrophobic and evokes the work of Japan's great pioneer of 80s gothic-psych, YBO2.

This limited, double LP is pressed in a pale, opaque pink that resembles the color of a nearly healed wound when a scab is removed too soon. Included are three sheets of blotter paper that marry the imagery of Lewis Carroll with LSD culture.  These parts, coupled with the massive scope of the record, create an environment that challenges the notions of an audience's position as spectator—just how comfortable should one be when trying to identify with music as a communal force? [Southern Lord]

-Paul Matthew

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