Love & Evol

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Boris, Japan's premier noise-rock group, celebrate their partnership with Third Man Records by simultaneously looking forward and backward. In addition to reissues of Akuma No Uta and Feedbacker, they deliver Love & Evol, a set that, according to press materials, packages two distinct works. Well known for extremes, Boris try most of them here. The first notes of opening track "Away from You" whisper from the speakers with a pillowy softness. Listeners may be tempted to glance at the sleeve to make sure the right record is in it. Fingerpicked electric guitars, an airy, vulnerable melody, and drifting snares usher in the melodic frame before downmixed, hushed vocals add texture and emotion. The only sonic element betraying this is Boris, is a single layer of restrained feedback that balances the guitar and bass before a tremolo-picked solo is combined with multiple layers of reverb, gentle distortion, and a lone keyboard note that gradually carry it out. It's followed by "Coma," a brutal attack of Merzbow-like noise and distortion that blurs all the instruments into a squalling, indistinguishable mass of overtones and volume. Clocking in at over 16 minutes, "Evol" weds tempered guitar ambience, blasting tom-toms, and low-tuned bass noise before commencing rock & roll overload. It doesn't remain there, however, as dynamics shift, fragmental melodies assert themselves, and melody and trippy psychedelic effects cover the center in a wonderfully disorienting and resonant whole. "Uzume" is eight minutes of doomy, droning pain, more assaultive than anything by Sunn O))). It's difficult to get through because the (anti-) riff is brittle and static; the industrial noise and nervous system-altering tonalities create a monolithic force. The single "Love" (yes, "Love" is on Evol, and "Evol" is on Love) is a Sleep-esque dirge with chanted vocals, slow, blown-out riffs, and thundering yet plodding drums. "In the Pain(t)," is all too brief at 3:40. It's a blissful, nearly ambient interlude that should have been longer. It dissolves into closer "Shadow of Skull," a drone blues done Boris-style. Its pace is nearly glacial, its vocal a pained primal moan woven inside thudding tom-toms and reverbed kick drums. A two-note bassline-on-stun muscles the detuned guitars that fight for dominance and pierce the maelstrom. Love & Evol is an uneven whole. Some of it sounds more tinkered with, more assembled than played. While there is plenty of imagination woven into these tracks, one wishes for more organic cohesion between the set's independent halves. That said, most longtime Boris fans will go for this since they're used to the band's bouncing between sonic poles.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
07:36 Amazon
07:47 Amazon
16:29 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
08:31 Amazon
06:46 Amazon
03:40 Amazon
11:25 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick