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Friday, April 24, 2015

Boris: Boris At Last: Feedbacker


1) Feedbacker I; 2) Feedbacker II; 3) Feedbacker III; 4) Feedbacker IV; 5) Feedbacker V.

I do not understand what «at last» is supposed to mean here. «At last» an album truly worthy of Boris? «At last» an album on which Boris have properly mastered the art of feedback? «At last» an album with Wata on the front sleeve? And, for that matter, what is the symbolic meaning of the «pool of blood» in which she is reclining? Getting you to confess that yes indeed, one does occasionally get the urge to shoot the guitarist through the head in the middle of a Boris album, but if she already did that herself, so much for the better?..

Anyway, this is actually Boris' third continuous «suite», and their second one where the body is split in several parts, corresponding to feed-phonic «movements» that illustrate several different stages of... uh, feedback. Or something. Actually, not all of Feedbacker consists exclusively of feedback — there's some «feedfront», too, particularly in the second part which is almost melodic by Boris standards, and in the fifth part, which is basically just a brief reprise of the second. Oh, and in the third part, much of which sounds like an outtake from Heavy Rocks. But do not expect any of these parts to be a celebration of traditional harmonic values: whatever happens, Boris stick to their well-oiled guns, or they wouldn't be able to release two or three albums per year.

Anyway, Part I is really all feedback, wave upon wave of it, stylistically reminiscent of what Neil Young did on Dead Man — get the blast going, then step back and experience it seeping away from your body like a tidal wave while waiting in apprehension for the next one. Cool tone, but I always felt Neil's feedback solos had more thought behind them than this «ooh, I so love what I can do with electricity» schtick. Besides, if you asked me how this one is different from anything on Absolutego or Amplifier Worship... hmm...

Part II is probably the main reason this album exists — it is a slow «ambient blues», gradually strolling through your living room for about eight minutes, after which a massive wah-wah solo takes over and the composition reaches a «drony climax». Aside from the solo, any melodic con­tent here is purely minimalistic, and the tempo eventually gets very irritating when combined with the minimalism of the melody. Clearly, if there is a heart in this LP, it is somewhere in the middle of this 15-minute brew, but on the whole I'd say that somebody like Bardo Pond are much more impressive with this kind of heavy moody melancholia. Perhaps somebody would like to argue that Wata's gauze-like «countermelodies», little droplets of electric guitar finely sprinkled over the repetitive rhythm chords, express impressionistic beauty like a modern day Debussy or some­thing, but I don't feel much subtlety in these droplets. Besides, the album is called Feedbacker, so there is no sense pretending that anything here that doesn't have anything to do with feedback will be the album's main achievement, really.

So we're not really after the heart, we're after the brawn, and most of the brawn can be found in Parts I and IV — IV being the most abrasive and vomit-inducing part of the experience, with the listener tied up to a malfunctioning electric chair for about ten minutes. If you feel like you haven't lived without being tied up to a malfunctioning electric chair for about ten minutes, then Boris At Last: Feedbacker will correct that omission for you. If you feel like you could pass, Feedbacker is probably not the best starting place to get into Boris. Unless you're seriously into guro and just want to scoop this up for the album cover.

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