Music Reviews

Boris Dear

(Sargent House) Rating - 7/10

As the initial brunt of distortion clings to a shapeless scaffolding of drum sounds and electricity, announced via the drone-addled metallic relapse of the opening track, D.O.W.N., that Dear is, as an acknowledgment of Boris’s 25th year in circulation, a full-circle release.  Following the band’s various musical partnerships, evolutions and excursions since perhaps their 2006 milestone release, Pink, (or even 2008’s, Smile), it seems appropriate that Boris (drummer Atsuo, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Takeshi and vocalist/guitarist Wata) would revisit the mud-caked riffage of yore in an effort to recognize the sound(s) that defined their earliest work. 

More appropriate is that Dear essentially begins with a warm up, D.O.W.N. — Domination of Waiting Noise, a slowed-up 6 minutes of pure build.  There’s an improvisational energy to the track, Takeshi’s impassioned vocal its only melodic counterpart. Sequentially, though, the radiating dread of DEADSONG wasn’t the best choice to follow, itself another droning, despondent rut set to “crawl” before the third track, Absolutego, provides the album with its first payoff. 

Named for the band’s 1996 album of the same name, Absolutego is an all-around win. Wata’s distorto-laden stringed buzz-saw is propulsive to the bridge when she lets out an intensified and gratifying series of shrieks during her solo. My only real complaint with this song is that I wish the bass tone sounded deeper. Its presence is barely audible.

Relative to the rest of the album, Absolutego is a singular moment.  While Boris do engage in some thrash balladry with Beyond and venture into impassioned post-punk/mutant disco with Biotope, a significant portion of Dear pushes volume over intensity.  Consequently, the album has a tendency to drag.  The viscous and breathy Kagero, for instance, struggles to move toward any meaningful resolution, thunderous shocks of sound managing to stay above a deep pool of aural murk.  And while its thematic riff is solid, The Power fails to capitalize or follow through on any promise of gratification, with repetitious and sludge-borne chunks of mud simply referencing Extra-Capsular Extraction-era Earth without much attempt at personalization or enhancement.  

Memento Mori continues Dear’s wallow streak, but adds an interesting, almost Pink Floyd-level melodicism that sets up well the almost 12-minute Distopia-Vanishing Point-, the album’s most ambitious (and maybe even successful) offering.  Its light and airy opening minutes, echoing strings plucked as if to create an expanse, generate calm till about the 7-minute mark when Boris comes alive with a beautifully rendered instrumental, a grit-laced guitar solo scrawled atop the rhythm section.

Ending the album, the title track’s equi-spaced, weighty-down strokes charge its first half as Takeshi’s quasi-melodic yells stretch across the sporadic sounds beneath.  With varying strains of droning guitar sound carrying the album to a close, Boris’ sonic recognition of their roots pulses and shrieks, sounds that seem merely revisited and not completely inspired.