Boredoms – Super Roots 9

Originally published in Plan B magazine, April 2008 – www.planbmag.com/shop

super_roots9

Boredoms – Super Roots 9 (Thrill Jockey)

The Super Roots series of EP’s, spanning 15 years of the band’s history, is usually accepted as being the best introduction to the various guises
Boredoms have taken. From the skronky exhibitionism of their early work,
through their mid-period acid rock, to the urgent, lush soundscapes they
currently inhabit, via multiple lineup-changes, Super Roots marks out the
various territories Boredoms have traversed. This ninth release in that
series, after a gap of 8 years, captures a performance on Christmas Eve
2004 which saw the band joined by a live 20-piece plainsong choir,
performing a single, 40-minute long piece. Of the EP’s so far, this is the
most exuberant and generous yet: a gorgeous offering both musically and as
an artefact, with a bound booklet of the score and suitably psychedelic
artwork by eYe himself, all wrapped under the tree and heralded by
reindeer. Hoofbeats clop. Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?

It’s been argued that to read the Super Roots EP’s as a progression is to
denigrate the band’s previous incarnations and impose a false sense of
evolution, and it’s true that Boredoms’ early work stands up independently;
but there is such movement in their current sound, such a sense of
propulsion, that some notion of momentum cannot but suggest itself. This
recording, however, works carefully to subvert expectations of forward
motion, both structurally and sonically. It begins by ending: immediately
following the arrival of Dasher, Dancer and friends, the choir introduces
itself with a major arpeggio over two octaves, repeating and extending it
for long minutes until, urged ever faster by cymbal crashes, it becomes an
exaggerated concerto finale, almost a musical joke. It’s not until the
choir has thoroughly bidden a farewell that eYe swirls in sythesisers and
shouts a demented greeting in response, and Yoshimi, Yojiro and Muneomi
start the unstable tattoo, so far removed from the steady motorik of Super
Roots 7
, that signals the beginning of the first movement proper. The
effect is of being folded back into the tonal heart of the chorale; of
moving backwards or towards a centre, rather than outward into space.
To match this false beginning, there’s also a false ending, 27 minutes into
the piece. With explosions, phased reverb and shouted encouragement from
eYe, as the choir moves ever further up the scale, the drums begin to pass
a pattern around their circle in a manner (familiar enough to those who
have seen Boredoms play) suggestive of imminent climax; the synths conspire with the choir, once more referencing the language of classical finale, and the piece shudders to a temporary halt. It fools the crowd, in any case, until their shouts are interrupted by the resumption of the drums’ central, deconstructed theme, this time in half-time, before the drums follow eYe’s delayed synth, his tone-generation toybox briefly abandoned, into the
full-on psychedelic freakout that dominates the last movement. The synth
works in and out of the tonal picture so dimensionally, above and below, in
front and behind, pitch-bending into the attack of the choir, sliding forward from behind its decay to lead it elsewhere or provoke it to outburst.
Super Roots 9, then, is far too careful and referential to fit easily into
the critical expectation of FAR OUT SPACE RACE. This is not the Sun Ship
that John Coltrane conjectured in 1965, although it borrows some
polyrhythms from Elvin Jones. Nor does it ape Reich or Gibson – it’s just
too abundant, although again, it owes is repetition and variation, and its
manipulation of classical motifs, to the minimalist tradition. Yet despite
showing its workings, this record, as with much of Boredoms’ recent output,
maintains a sense of ecstatic celebration. The plainsong here suggests a
pastoral rather than ecclesiastical worship, a celebration of all things,
everywhere at once; something close to the Universal Consciousness of Alice Coltrane, the celestial made personal, the perpetual affirmative beaten out of a thousand hearts.

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~ by bunnyrabble on March 26, 2009.

One Response to “Boredoms – Super Roots 9”

  1. “It’s been argued that to read the Super Roots EP’s as a progression is to denigrate the band’s previous incarnations and impose a false sense of evolution, and it’s true that Boredoms’ early work stands up independently; but there is such movement in their current sound, such a sense of propulsion, that some notion of momentum cannot but suggest itself.”

    the first suggestion is kooky – bands change, especially when they start of yelling “acid politzuuu” for five minutes. (i like “acid police” and all but yeeaaaaah)

    what’s change is that they’ve gone from a noise rock / “experimental” position to a middle ground of long-form acid-tinged psych before hitting their current stride as joy-tinged acid.

    more poetically/nonsensically, i’ve put it like this:

    “There are three distinct periods of Boredoms recordings: screaming and flailing like you got your junk caught in a waffle iron, three-note acid rock from beyond the future and joyous screaming and flailing like you got your junk caught in The Unblinking Eye of God.”

    http://dhex.wordpress.com/2007/01/24/boredoms-super-roots-1-3-5-6-7-8/

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