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Friday, May 22, 2015

Boris: Pink

BORIS: PINK (2005)

1) Ketsubetsu; 2) Pink; 3) Sukuriin-no Onna; 4) Betsu-ni Nan Demo Nai; 5) Burakku Auto; 6) Electric; 7) Nise Bureddo; 8) Nurui Honoo; 9) Roku-o Mitsu; 10) My Machine; 11) Ore-o Sute-ta Tokoro.

Let us list all the references to other artists that veteran reviewer Thom Jurek has made in his review of Pink, Boris' first venture into the «accessible» territory of post-rock composition: Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Isis, Sigur Rós, Nadja, Jesu, Mono (we go to Japan now), Guitar Wolf, Iggy Pop (we go back into the past now), MC5, Sunn O)))) (okay, back to the present), and Acid Mothers Temple. That's 12. Okay, now the Pitchfork review by Brandon Stosuy, who do we have here? Sigur Rós, Isis, Jesu, Melvins, Motörhead, Olivia Tremor Control, Unwound, Drive Like Jehu... oh no, that's just 8, not counting additional historical references.

The question is, now that Boris have moved into this «normal» territory, cutting tracks that be­gin to re­semble «songs» every once in a while, are they still Boris, or are they merely a potpourri of all these influences, contemporary and archaic alike? Do they have an agenda, or are they just selling out? Unfortunately, as much as I would like to like Pink, if only for the usual awesome­ness of Wata's guitar tones, not even repeated listens can convince me that the record ever once rises above the level of kitsch. If this is ironic music, it is too boring to sink in deep. If it is dead serious music, it is just plain awful.

There's always that third possibility, of course — that this is simply fun music. Starting with the title track, it is music that bluntly invites you to headbang, and at least on one occasion it even invites you to dance (ʽElectricʼ, though, as if acknowledging the embarrassing nature of the pro­position, the track clocks in at a measly 1:45). Sludgy guitar tones, punkish tempos, screamed vocals — song after song is a mosher's paradise. Then they slow down and become your usual Black Sabbath... oh wait, I am falling into the namedropping trap myself.

Well then, here be the problems. First, there are more vocals here than ever before. They all seem to be delivered by Takeshi, and frankly, he is awful. His constant screeching sounds neither angry nor crazy — it is just irritating, like the nagging of a loudmouthed peddler on the street corner or something. (Actually, I believe that drummer Atsuo also has sing... er, vocalizing duties, and carries them out with approximately the same effect). Had all these songs been joined into a single track with all the vocals wiped off for good, that would have been a big plus.

Second, the introduction of short compositions does not mean the introduction of good riffs. Well, not entirely true. The machine-gun riff of ʽPinkʼ (belonging in what I call the ʽBreadfanʼ category for lack of a better term) is sort of mildly interesting. When you combine Wata's tone with speedy finger-flashing playing the results are fun, it would be useful to deny something as obvious. But apart from that, 99% of the riffs still sound as if they have an efficient software piece that de­constructs old Sabbath riffs and puts them back together, with predictably worse results because the software has no idea of the kind of chord sequences that really gets your goat. I mean, listen to ʽElectricʼ — it's like a cross between ʽSupernautʼ and ʽN.I.B.ʼ and... something else. Esnes on sekam ti tub looc sdnuos ti. If you know what I mean.

Supposedly the most important compositions on the album are the two longest numbers — ʽKetsubetsuʼ, a «regal» drone piece that really does conjure all these references in Jurek's review (yes, even Sigur Rós, with its choral harmonies and ringing rainbow-y guitar dubs over all the noise), and the closing ten-minute gallop piece which I would probably mistake for a lost And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead composition if not for the annoying Japanese vocals. On second thought, though, I probably wouldn't, because those guys would have chickened out when it came to basing a ten-minute track on exactly two musical ideas. In any case, both tracks are deadly dull — unfortunately, I cannot share the enthusiasm, so common among reviewers, over the mad fury of the opening minutes of ʽOre-o Sute...ʼ because it is hard for me to endorse something just because it is mad and furious. If it went on for sixty minutes, that would at least be an artistic statement. Since it only goes on for ten (I think there's also an extended version that throws on eight more minutes of feedback), it's just a bore.

On the whole, a drastic thumbs down and a radical disagreement here with tons of glowing reviews on RYM and other sites that often extol this as Boris' finest hour — much of which pro­bably has to do with the fact that it was the band's first widely distributed US album. In this humble reviewer's opinion, Pink simply shows that Boris are spiritually incapable of producing genuine «rock»-type material. One of the few dissonant reviews on RYM put it short and sweet: «Stick to drone guys». Couldn't agree more.


  1. So I listened to the song Pink - Boris pales compared to the ZZZ's, also from Japan. Check Dystopia: the screeching is superior, the tones are more awesome (that growling bass is unbeatable), the drumkit is bashed more and the distortion is more effective.