Boomkat Product Review:
Japanese sludge behemoths Boris subvert expectations yet again, following 2020's balls-to-the-wall "NO" with this disarming set of their haziest, most elegiac productions to date. Fairytale dream pop, sublime noise, and weightless metal - somewhere between Talk Talk, Earth, and Slowdive. We're not worthy.
At this stage, almost 25 years after their gut re-arranging debut album, it'd be fair to say Boris are a rare trusted presence in experimental music. Unafraid of change and seemingly incapable of resting in the same spot for too long, the band has moved freely but reliably around their artistic spectrum. They've experimented with slab ambience on "Flood", cacophonous pop on "Pink" and grinding hardcore on 2020's "NO", and collaborated with Merzbow, Keiji Haino, and Sunn O))) - each time, they've struck gold. And yet on "W", it sounds as if the band have hit a new creative peak, flexing lavishly rather than attempting to prove anything in particular, and falling into a steady groove of syrupy axe harmony and vortex-led songwriting that tips from Earth's desert-blasted molasses sheet drone into Cocteau Twins' cloudy pink-hued melancholy.
If its predecessor was a primal roar from early lockdown's inert crevices, "W" instead finds beauty in the extended pensive moments, allowing us to dissociate in soothing sonic density and ethereal glitter. It's not surprising to find cinematic subversive Peter Greenaway referenced on the album's lead single 'Drowning By Numbers' - there's a similar studied whimsy to Boris's craft that focuses more on experience and spectacle than narrative storytelling. Driving electronic percussion is submerged in whirlpool guitars and simmering bass as Wata counts slowly, punctuating it with humanity. 'Icelina' is even more surprising, losing nursery rhyme shimmers in waves of psychedelic effects - it sounds like My Bloody Valentine at their most horizontal, dissolving fractally into a lake of psilocybin.
"W" isn't just breathy atmospheres either: "The Fallen" is an assured flip back towards the band's Melvins-inspired hard rawk skronk, stepping a PVC boot into hair metal soloing over brickwall riffs. It's almost a fake-out, leading towards the album's most peaceful moment 'Beyond Good and Evil', a confident ascent from whispers and gently caressed guitars to richly orchestrated choral bliss.
"W" is really the album we need right now, an uncompromising and constantly mind-altering record of extremes, juxtapositions, contradictions and challenges. Somehow, Boris manage to sound entirely comforting without ever losing their sharp teeth.