Drone/rock/pop/stoner/chameleons/whatever-they-are Boris are no strangers to working with legendary noise musician Merzbow, and once again, have taken to the studio together for another collaboration effort. However this time they offer a new twist- 2 discs, one Merzbow one Boris. Intended to be played at the same time at varying volumes and starting points each time- to give a unique “Gensho” or “experience”. I will get to how I think this experiment works as a whole later- but first I listened to the discs separately, so I could judge them on their own personal strengths:
The Boris disc is breathtaking. Presented here are reworked older tracks and a cover of My Bloody Valentine‘s “Sometimes“, all in drum-less, drone style versions that quite frankly, are Boris’ absolute forte. Not only that, but these may indeed be some of the best, if not THE best recorded drone tracks in their entire catalog. The production value here is immaculate. The main thing that really sets them apart though, is their absolute beauty underneath the crushing, overpowering heaviness. Even tracks like Huge sound gorgeous (in their own twisted way, like the awe of watching a building collapse). For me though, the absolute highlight is the new version of Rainbow. This is the ultimate version- it’s absolutely fucking gorgeous. The guitar solo elevates it to the next level and it’s hard to believe that the band still has so much to surprise us with even after so many releases.
The Merzbow disc, is, like most Merzbow, quite overwhelming at first. However, there seems to be a solid sense of direction this time around, Merzbow has a location he intends on taking the listener, regardless of how rocky and jagged the journey. It’s at times quite terrifying, especially if approached on headphones. I never found it to be insanely abrasive like some other works I’ve heard by Merzbow, ultimately it was a quite surprisingly easy and pleasant listen (for Merzbow standards that is). There is quite a lot of atmosphere and many, many layers to explore- if you have the patience and stomach for it. Golaka pts 1 and 2 are the most interesting pieces here and are quite entrancing. Overall, one of the better standalone Merzbow discs I’ve heard.
But… these are meant to be played at the same time. And that’s where I think the project doesn’t work as well as it was intended. Both discs are quite superior individual releases and I find- no matter how much I fiddle about with the levels, that when played together, they honestly detract and take away from one another, rather than adding anything. It’s not that I think the two bands don’t go great together- they do and have- look at previous collaborations such as Klatter for example- just this time, it all seems a bit too ambitious for their own good.
I feel like most of the time I will opt to just listen to the Boris or Merzbow disc by themselves and can’t really find any justification to listen to the album as intended. So for that, I feel I need to knock a couple points off. Perhaps in the future, someone will release a pre-mixed version with the levels set ample, but for now- I just wait to hear the live discs that come with the 4 disc version (as of this review, untested).
Overall though, 2 great separate albums, but the concept doesn’t really work as well as it should.
Boris Disc- 9/10
Merzbow Disc- 8/10
Final Score= 7.3/10.