Boris w/Michio Kurihara & Sunn O))) w/Boris CDs reviewed

Music Reviews
Boris w/Michio Kurihara & Sunn O))) w/Boris CDs reviewed
Jul 2, 2007, 07:59



Boris may try your patience and test your wallet with the variety of configurations they issue albums on. They take advantage of their fan base with multiple issues of the same album and seemingly infinite packaging variations across labels and territories.  But in the last couple of years no one can credibly accuse them of letting up on the musical quality control.

Right now I'd be hard pressed to think of a band as instrumentally adaptable (they can go from ambient drift to flat out boogie) on one side with a more viable catalog on the other. Pink wrapped up their “thing” in a tidy bow, giving entry-level listeners a nicely packaged summary of the band's range. Boris have toured North America pretty extensively and laid it down live for the people to see and hear. Now a series of collaborative releases are coming out that show how the trio interacts with other inventive musical entities.

Kurihara has stiffened the spine of many a Ghost album with his swirling, acid-edged guitar solos. Certifiably wild as a player, he lent Ghost a chaotic edge that reined in the hippy-dippy excesses of much of their material. Paired with Boris, he acts as a focusing agent, placing solos at structural points where reference points draw all four players together. Rainbow draws Boris into coherent melodies, which peel back like onionskin as Kurihara's solos emerge. If Boris were merely backing Kurihara as a high-grade rhythm section the album would be of note, as it is there is some chemistry at work that brings out the best of all the musicians. Maybe a little more overt in its psychedelicisms than you may have heard from Boris, Rainbow also carries a gossamer melodic touch that will bring you back for multiple listens.

The Altar would obviously be placed by Boris and Sunn O))) at the Temple of Riff. It's easy enough to see the opening track as the product of a simple equation of “Sunn riffage plus Boris leads with a buncha drumming.” The expected formula is not unvarying applied, however.

“The Sinking Belle,” the piano-driven ballad that is a lovely showcase for Jesse Syke's delicate and smoky vocals is the immediately unexpected track on the album. Who could have guessed that the assembled musicians had a soft, sensitive Adult-Alternative side? “Fried Eagle Mind” opens with a similar soft touch before the layers of hiss slowly move across the piece. But the counter-intuitive delight for me on Altar is “Akuma No Kuma” with a plangent trombone by Steve Moore, and a cascade of moog tones that give an unexpected ceremonial feel to the center of the album, like marching corps of cyborg Janissaries. There is a wide open feel enhanced by the horn (which seems to be multi-tracked from here to Addis Ababa) and then summarily cut short by squiggling and lacerating moogs. Add some remarkable pound on the drums and you've got an album that sidesteps the obvious combinations without lightening up on the heft you want and need Boris and Sunn O))) to bring you. [Rainbow - Drag City / Altar - Southern Lord]

-Bruce Adams

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