(Diwphalanx/Southern Lord; 2005/2006)

By Chet Betz | 19 January 2006

A couple years ago a nice girl lent me her copy of The Japanese/American Noise Treaty. I never made it past “Large Scale Integration” by Contagious Orgasm. Granted, when I first looked into Boris, I knew I was dealing with a whole different category of music, but my expectations of utter dissonance remained. I thought the shit was supposed to make me not want to listen to it. I thought the music was supposed to be too hard for people who like music. I thought a lot of things, I thought I was probably too pussy, but maybe Boris are too pussy to put out the pussies, or maybe I’m not as pussy as I thought (but, really, I bet I am), so let’s just consolidate insecurities and say that Boris pussy rock hard, pretty pinky rings glinting on uplifted devil signs.

Boris were relatively easy on the ears by the time they dropped Akuma No Uta (2003), which invigorated the sludgy, droney metal of Amplifier Worship (2001) with less dirge-y atmospherics, cleaner guitars and more, like, actual tempos. The slow-burn passages felt pop compared to the band’s past crawling grinds of distortion, and the too adorable Bryter Layter spoof photo made me smile, plus irrationally hope for a Boris “Poor Boy” cover. But this new album takes it further; this new album is Pink. Are Boris relentless purveyors of knowing self-mockery? In a genre where “accessibility” is taboo, it must be a little tough on the boys when they’re making music for people who like music. I’m glad they’re doing it, though, and I’m glad they’re grinning; although born of a more punishing musical heritage, Pink’s as charming a work of rock sprawl as Dungen’s Ta Det Lungt or Comets on Fire’s Blue Cathedral, and all from a point too far to astronaut.

The affability is both immediate and immediately apparent, the opener beginning with Wata’s slack-jawed, plucked string explorations of stratosphere before a complementary torrent of static thunder gives some teeth to Takeshi’s Japlandic; welcoming softness serves as an embrace that draws listeners closer and makes them only half-conscious of the buzzing dagger slowly sinking in their backs. Pink’s first track lays on the distortion, folds that on top of itself, multiplies it by a hundred, but in the midst remain some chiming figures and lethargic wails to swirl the chaos into shapes and colors. So, just as a subversive lyric or harsh EQ can increase the potency of a pop song, reprieve and a little mild temperament add weight and stealth to the Boris bludgeon. The blistering wax and beautiful wane is right there in the sequencing, too. Track one’s a slow swell leading to the speeding punk crunch of the title track with its burning train rhythm section and Wata’s Gypsy licks; the momentum and heat only intensify before ebbing into the eerie echo chamber drama of the fifth track; the engine’s kick-started again by “Electric”; things remain heavy but get slow with track eight, churning riffs in full effect; nigh ambient “My Machine” preludes the album’s colossal closer, where chugging guitar and fill-ridden drums charge their way out of breath at 6:30, but the track’s still pounding heart gives a two-to-the-floor beat and some fuzzy harmonics for a vital denouement. Seventh track’s got ooh-ooh’s.

Essentially, Pink brings out the motherfucking yang in the motherfucking yin, and vice versa, and that makes it an organically structured example of how to be musically, motherfucking zen. The same closing statement could be pinned on just about every classic or semi-classic psych-rock beast ever released, but, fortunately for Boris’ status in the contemporary scene, this is not the era of classic or semi-classic psych-rock beasts, and their own monster has an anthropology and genetic code different from that of more straight-laced revival peers. If Pink’s more evolution than revolution, it still stomps all over most of its close genre surroundings, leaving maybe Tiger Bear Wolf and The Woods as far as 2005 goes. I know which two bands I’d dream to open Sleater’s next tour; I’d plan to photograph some devils signs with pretty pinky rings.