Boris & Ian Astbury
posted on 9/2010 By:
When two recognizable names show up under the artist column with an ampersand wedged uncomfortably in between them, it means it's time for a good ol’ collaborative effort. Japanese stoner-post-drone-all-over-the-place masters Boris are no strangers to these activities, finding a way to meld with acts ranging from drone lords Sunn O))) to noise artist Merzbow. Their latest friendly outing is with--curious as it may seem--The Cult vocalist Ian Astbury, resulting in the brief 20-minute EP BXI (get it?). An eyebrow-raising pairing on paper, but the music comes naturally, with quality ranging from the pleasantly toe-tappin’ to the downright spectacular.
As one would expect, the brevity of the EP sees Boris foregoing the droning landscapes and experiments within the realms of noise that they have often diverted towards, instead favoring to don their rock-roll boots. The first two of the four songs on BXI could be considered the obvious results of the collaboration. “Teeth and Claws” is a subdued, vocal-centric alt rocker, pleasing to the ears and not entirely unlike what one would imagine Boris to sound like as a cover band specializing in The Cult and their late-80s ilk. “We Are The Witches” morphs the band into the fuzzy cousin of a Kyuss and Helmet love child, complete with one of their signature Neil Young-in-a-metal-band guitar solos, all the while letting Astbury float his croon unabashedly over the riffage.
And make no mistake; the star of this show is Ian. He may not have had a gold record in 20 years, but he is still a master at work, showing inflections and range that rival his classic albums with The Cult. This all makes the third track a mite curious. It is an Astbury-less cover of his band’s classic “Rain,” featuring Wata’s gentle vocal delivery. The quality can’t be denied (that riff is as infectious now as it was in 1985), but on such a short release, leaving the star out for even one track seems like a diversion. It also doesn’t help the feeling that the utterly enjoyable first three-quarters of BXI stop short of what this collaboration could be.
Thankfully, closing track “Magickal Child” realizes this full potential. A modest, heart-wrenching and ethereal tune, it is what Jesu would sound like with a truly gifted singer among their ranks. The layers of pulsating drones, simplistic drumming, and atmospheric guitars all seem much more massive than the track’s basic two-phrase structure and sub-six-minute run time should allow, but the unbelievable vocal performance and deep production give way to the music’s full breadth. This is the true sound of Ian letting loose and surfing on the unbridled waves of Tropical Storm Boris.
Therein lies the only disappointment with BXI: the EP is a monumental tease. A thunderously produced and executed tease to be sure, but a tease nonetheless. While the entirety of the release is a blast, especially for fans of either entity, its finale shows that this collaboration could be something for the ages. With Astbury’s main band seemingly in permanent part-time mode for the last decade, there is no reason for Boris not to give him a call and put together a full-length and short tour. After this EP, I surely won’t be alone in my hope that this happens.
This is merely an appetizer. Bring on the feast.
Register to post comments.