“We don’t feel comfortable calling Dear a return to our slow and heavy style,” says Tokyo’s amplifier worshiping experimental metal institution Boris. “We’ve been heavy since day one.” And it’s true. From the droning thunder of their Absolutego debut and through the cinematic crescendo of albums like Flood, the bombastic licks of the Heavy Rocks records, the punk rage of Vein, the bottom-dwelling psychedelia of Akuma no Uta and Pink, and the grimy thump of Attention Please and New Album, Boris has always attempted to search out new ways to level listeners with their sound. On the 25th year of their existence, the trio delivers Dear, an album they describe as “heavenly—far beyond heavy.”
Though Boris has traversed a broad swath of sonic territories, they have always been consistent in their embracing of excess, pushing their myriad of approaches and stylistic forays to points of intoxicating absurdity. But a time came in the early years of their third decade where the band wondered if there were any new horizons for the band to explore. Consequently, it was decided that the band would begin jamming on material for what was planned to be a record that served as a formal goodbye to fans. In a strange twist of fate, being unencumbered by expectations and having an open-ended approach to the writing process reinvigorated Boris. The renewed vitality yielded an album that fortifies their monolithic wall of sound while also allowing the individual band members to explore the nuances and intricacies of minimalist riffs played at maximum volume.
Album opener “D.O.W.N. –Domination of Waiting Noise-“ sets the tone for the record’s glacial pace and seismic rumble with vast swaths of sustained chords underscoring oscillator pulses and Takeshi’s soaring vocals. Songs like “DEADSONG”, “Kagero”, and “The Power” take the glacial doom of their early records and broaden the expanses of empty space to allow the chirp of amplifier tubes, the groan of strained speaker cabinets, and the sizzle of cranked distortion to transform their dirges into macrocosms of textures. It was a premeditated strategy, with the band deliberately scaling down on instrumentation in order to allow more color, detail, and tension to emanate from their protracted riffage. The galloping chugs and acidic guitar leads of “Absolutego” provide the most rock-oriented moment of the album, even though the song’s crushing timbre is cataclysmic even by the most down-tuned and heavily doped stoner rock standards. Brief moments of respite from the dimed amplifiers can be found on songs like “Beyond” and “Memento Mori”, where the band juxtaposes their deluges of fuzz with hints of ethereal dream pop.
Songwriting for Dear initially yielded three albums’ worth of material by the end of 2015, but as the band was slated to spend a large chunk of 2016 on their “Performing Pink” worldwide tour, they decided to hold off on releasing any new material. The tour further rekindled their passion, and when the band returned home they wrote several more songs and scaled the three records down to one. “At the very first moment, this album began as some kind of potential farewell note of Boris. However, it became a sincere letter to fans and listeners… you know, like ‘Dear so-and-so, this is the new album from Boris’ or something like that. We feel so grateful we can release this album in our 25th anniversary year.” Adding to that sentiment, Sargent House is grateful to release Boris Dear to the world on July 14, 2017 on CD, 2xLP, and digital formats.
Uniform formed in New York City in late 2013 when old friends Ben Greenberg (Hubble, The Men, Pygymy Shrews) and Michael Berdan (York Factory Complaint, Drunkdriver, Believer/Law) realized they lived on the same street. Their impulsive collaboration quickly yielded Our Blood / Of Sound Mind and Body single. The six tracks that comprise the equally abrasive but more refined Perfect World have been coming together between tours and work ever since.
The music that Greenberg and Berdan conjure up under the Uniform moniker is immediate, aggressive, and even primal in form, but it plumbs untold depths. Berdan’s venomous voice mines deeply personal themes of resentment, regret, reflection and addiction over the hum of Greenberg’s almost impossibly disciplined guitar, bass synth, and drum machine lines. Greenberg uses the word “templatized” to describe their approach to writing songs for Uniform.
“There’s this set bunch of gear to create sounds, and it only creates sound through a certain process, or within its own limitations,” Greenberg said. “The goal of songwriting is to see how many different kinds of sounds you can get from the same basic process and machine.”
On Perfect World, that machine is firing on all cylinders. The guitar is run through a cheap ’80s preamp marketed to metal kids. The drum machine is equally no-frills, an Akai XR20 that Greenberg says “most people wouldn’t want to keep around.” These humble components are combined with noisy synth and Berdan’s profound howling to form something much greater. Post-punk, synthpunk, and industrial traditions are borrowed from as needed, but the constraints placed on the process mean the result is unique to Uniform. Berdan describes his lyrics as the consequence of feeling “so full of pain, confusion, deep selfishness, and general animosity that you make some horrible mistakes and have to learn how to forgive yourself for them.” Perfect World feels like the sum of all that pain and confusion, but it also feels like the catharsis.