In a move that’s as scrambled and paradoxical as its music, Boris is unleashing New Album—which came out in the group’s native Japan early this year—after the U.S. release of Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, the pair of albums that originally followed it. The convoluted chronology makes a weird sort of sense. New Album exists as most Boris albums do: in a dimension of its own, blissfully oblivious to the progression that a band’s output—or, indeed, the evolution of music itself—might logically be expected to take. Accordingly, New Album posits an alternate universe, one in which Heavy Rocks and Attention Please have been fused to form a synthetic, futuristic new Boris.
To clarify: Yes, Boris released three full-lengths of new material in 2011. New Album is the best of the three. Combining the cosmic overload of Heavy Rocks with the ethereal pop of Attention Please, these 10 songs are the most texturally varied and sonically adventurous Boris has ever produced. It doesn’t always work; the glitch-injected (and ironically guitar-free) “Les Paul Custom ’86” lags, and the filthy percussion is all “Jackson Head” has going for it.
But the occasional flaws are still fascinating twists of Boris’ art-metal genome—and the rest of New Album tackles that mutation with beauty and brilliance. “Luna” is the freshest reinterpretation of My Bloody Valentine in ages, awash in euphoric blastbeats and retina-scarring guitar that leave the current wave of gloomy metalgaze groups groping for the light switch. And the shimmering “Spoon” marks the full promotion of guitarist Wata—whose lush, sugary vocals have long stood by the sidelines—as a full co-vocalist alongside bassist Takeshi.
Speaking of Wata: While she’s always been a dexterous, inventive guitarist, she sets her bar even higher on songs like “Pardon?”, which pits dreamy, oscillating jangle against epic jazz-fusion solos. In spite of the juxtaposition of so many styles, layers, and attitudes, the disc never feels like a mixed bag; even during its widest swings of mood and sound, there’s a joyous celebration of sheer sensory overload at its heart. Technically speaking, New Album isn’t a new album at all, but it does illuminate a strong, striking new direction for Boris—although it’s anyone’s guess where the fearlessly evolving group might leap next.