I’d be lying if I denied losing faith in Boris for a while… something happened that found me a little disillusioned with recent releases and left me unexcited when their names cropped. For this, I am ashamed. It is with absolute strength that the Japase noise/riff/rock/alt/avant-gods return to form not with a noisey thrash monster and not with Astbury-ballad vocals, and certainly not J-pop… but with a well thought out, melodic soundscape. Also featured on the second half of this release from Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records is Joe Volk. Formerly of post-rock supergroup Crippled Black Phoenix, Volk‘s contribution is two autumn-purpose pieces of folky ambience that ring of Nick Drake or James Yorkston.
The record eases in with Boris‘ ‘Cosmos Pt.1’, an oceanic instrumental which washes into shore like waves on sand: a fine introduction, quite similar to some of the more ambient pieces earlier in their career (see also: ‘The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 1-3’). Moving onto ‘Cosmos Pt. 2’, an indicator that the aforementioned musical sidesteps were merely that, as band unleashes a colossal, melodic, head-nodding wall of sound. Reverb drenched guitar lines cut through the fog of fuzzy guitars and little tickles of delays and reverse-reverbs pull the vocals right up to your nose… and what a delivery! The rhythm section is as powerful and thunderous as always and the whole piece leaves you immensely satisfied, excited and uplifted… the grand centrepiece.
Closing their contribution to the split with the final part of ‘Cosmos [Pt. 3 – duh]’, Boris melodise and tinker with a gentle guitar melody and spacey waves and pulses that could only have been recorded by some sort of intergalactic scientist working on the Hubble telescope. Don’t ask how or why, just accept it (see also: anything by Acid Mothers Temple).
Volk rolls in not long after, as far from space as he could be, with ‘Call To Sun’. The song begins with some Nick Drake-esque acoustic strumming and picking with sweet, soft vocals reminiscent of David Gilmour in his earlier days with Pink Floyd (see also: ‘Echoes’), before he became a grizzly old crooner. Volk strays from the acousfolk singer-songwriter template with a fantastic extended outro based around highland drums and violins: almost Celtic, but thankfully without bagpipes.
‘Finland’ seems reminiscent of almost anywhere but! Guitar hammer-ons scream Six Organs of Admittance whilst deep, moody pads and ambience lie below. In this instrumental Volk shows his mastery of a feeling or space, omitting vocals completely and allowing his guitar to take the main-stage and ending the record, minus a wholly unnecessary radio edit (see also: anything played on that awful hobo, Zane Lowe’s show) which seems to do nothing but remove a fantastic musical outro of a fantastic song.
So there we have it: the return of Boris (or the death of my own ignorance) and the blooming solo career of Joe Volk. Ivada claim that the split is “a juxtaposition of styles from the same mindset. One story told two ways.” The record dowses you in water as they sail in, drops you in the deep as ‘Cosmos’ climaxes and falls, then dries you off in the garden as Volk shines rays through his guitar… only to finish off the job with a scorching evening piece as the deep, resonating rumble below pulls in another night. This is an excellent record with the only fault being an unfulfilling length. Forgive me for sounding bitter but next time give me a double album, because half an hour just isn’t enough!
Released December 10th through Invada.
Posted by Jake Murray.