Boris - Noise

As a general rule, I tend to like pretty much everything that Sargent House puts out. After all, their roster incudes acts Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle/Marriages, Omar Rodriguez Lopez/The Mars Volta/Bosnian Rainbows, Mutoid Man, and Helms Alee, just to name a few. As a general rule, I also tend to really enjoy Japanese post-everything rockers Boris. But the trio’s first three offerings on Sargent House—Heavy Rocks, Attention Please, and New Album (all of which came out in 2011)—were uneven, disappointing affairs, which left me (and doubtless quite a few others) wondering if the band’s prolific ways had finally caught up with them and the well had run dry. Last year’s Praparat was a much better album and went a long way to restoring my faith in the group, but since it was only available on vinyl and not released domestically, most American Boris fans likely haven’t heard it and a good number probably aren’t even aware it exists.

So if you’re a Boris fan who is leery of checking out Noise, their latest on Sargent House, because of 2011’s rather lackluster output, let me put your fears to rest. Noise is a very solid, and frequently very good, album that doesn’t quite match the quality of some of the band’s best-loved early work, but is still very much worth your time.

First, the good: “Heavy Rain” is another classic Boris-as-shoegaze-band track in the spirit of “Farewell” from Pink or “Elegy” from Praparat, except that it features Wata on vocals, giving the track a much more ethereal feel. The nearly 20-minute “Angel” is a welcome throwback to the slow-building Feedbacker and should thrill fans that miss the days of epic, single-song albums. As a whole, the album is much heavier than their previously SH releases, and tracks like “Melody” and “Ghost of Romance” are some of the stronger songs the band has written in recent memory.

The album isn’t without its issues, though. For one thing, it feels more controlled than I generally like my Boris albums to be. The appeal of albums like Akuma no Uta, Pink, and even Praparat is that they sound like they could careen out of control at any moment, but the same slick production that marred 2011’s trio of albums is still in evidence on Noise (though it is less distracting), and drummer Atsuo still sounds like he’s being reined in (though he does get to use his gong on “Angel”). The poppy “Taiyo No Baka” is a misstep, and it doesn’t really seem like it fits on the album, and the album-closing instrumental “Siesta” is somewhat forgettable.

On the whole, though, Noise is an enjoyable album that should satisfy long-time fans of the group. It also wouldn’t be a bad starting point for folks who have been curious about the band but too intimidated by their huge discography to really know where to start. 

Noise is available on CD and vinyl from the Sargent House webstore and digitally from the Boris bandcamp page