Naming their latest LP, Japanese sludge legends Boris chose a track as simple and iconic as their band’s name: Noise. It suited the music – 58 minutes of swirling, psychedelic, shoegaze-tinged doom – but also spoke of something bigger.
Boris was trained in Tokyo in 1992 with one goal. “The only goal we had was to make it really heavy,” says Takeshi, one of the three single-name members. Takeshi is a bassist, guitarist and singer, playing bass and double neck guitar in an immortalized version of the Bryter Layter-inspired cover of the 2003s. Akuma No Uta.
Boris’ core trio – Takeshi, guitarist / vocalist Wata, and drummer / spokesperson Atsuo – have released 19 albums in the past 20 years. Remaining forever heavy, their albums pushed accessibility and inaccessibility. “We have our own signature sound that only three of us can make,” Takeshi says. “As long as it still means ‘heavy’ to us, it doesn’t matter whether the music sounds pop or out of tune. Our hope is to discover ‘new’ sounds and music. People say that most styles of music are already born and there is nothing new anymore, but I really want to look for something that has never been found before, a miracle hidden in music. “
With Noise, it meant writing the album in the most “natural, neutral and subconscious” way, setting aside conceptual ideas and the structured process for improvisation. The title of the album is coupled with a philosophy of composition (Takeshi says that “noise is glue that can bind different things, noise can give a definitive form to the music”) and as a titular link with the rich history of noise music in Japan. Boris has collaborated with noise legends Merzbow and Keiji Haino, and in a 2014 interview, Atsuo said, “Noise is Japanese blues.”
“Every time you come to Japan, you can just hear it,” Takeshi says. “Every street in every city is inundated with huge noises, from people talking, from the constant playing of uncomfortable commercial music, so many contradictory sounds in one space. But no one ever says it’s too loud or loud. It is the naturalness of The Japanese, going too far – and then not complaining – as proof of “hospitality.”
Boris will play at the Corner in Richmond on Saturday May 30.