After a long silence -- their last album, Vision Creation Newsun, was issued in the U.S. in 2001 (although it came out in Japan in 1999) -- the Boredoms return with Seadrum/House of Sun, a monolithic two-track slab of cosmic rapture. Packaged in a minimal yet lavish sparkle blue jewel case with silver and gold printed artwork that will break the heart of any buyer unfortunate enough to damage it, the album feels like a release from Sun Ra with Fela as bandleader, and that's without even listening to it! On to the music: the first track is "Seadrum." It opens with a simple vocal that rises and falls like a tide. There's a brief intrusion of chimes and suddenly the vocal, which was beginning to sound like classic '60s Abbey Lincoln, is gone, replaced by African drumming heavy with echo and busy hands on the mixing board panning and filtering the percussion. A drum kit joins the building wall of hand drums, and not far behind is a cascading piano that sounds as if Liberace and Alice Coltrane are playing a game of four hands. The drums have now built into breakbeat shuffle full of the wide crashing electronic sweeps that gave the last few Boredoms discs their Krautrock-ish Amon Düül II edge. The vocals have returned, but are now layered with two or three lines spiraling slowly upward. The drums slowly fade to a whisper, taking a breath before the second half of "Seadrum" begins. A marimba and tabla are introduced but are soon absorbed into the wash of drums, vocals, and piano that continue to swell and fade throughout the remainder of the 23-minute track. Whew! Never have the usually mischievous Boredoms sounded this focused and, well, downright elegant really -- a masterful pairing of cosmic rock and spiritual jazz references. The second track is also long, but refrains from the ear beating of "Seadrum." Instead, "House of Sun" is an Eastern-themed meditation for strings featuring tanpuras, sitars, and guitar. It starts simply enough with a droning tanpura and guitar peeling off shades of Popol Vuh ecstasy, but soon builds into an army of droning strings and several guitars, each going in its own direction. This all builds into a thick velvety curtain of sound that is never pulled away to reveal a wizard, but instead fades with the stage lights. A perfect third panel in the triptych that opened with Super Ae and continued with Vision Creation Newsun.
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AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan