Sunday, July 25, 2010

Boris & Ian Astbury - BXI

Boris & Ian Astbury
Southern Lord

I ain’t gonna lie: when I first heard that Cult leader Ian Astbury was gonna collaborate with experimental Japanese heavy rock trio Boris, my first thought was “Oh god, why?” Boris’ work is always interesting, frequently astonishing, even transcendent. Astbury is, well, Astbury. Either you can tolerate his off-key, testosterone-addled bleat or you can’t. If you could see the shudder going down my spine every time I typed his name, you wouldn’t wonder which side of the fence I stand on.

So imagine my surprise at how hard I’m falling for BXI. Boris plays it straight here, eschewing its tendencies towards drone for straightahead, chunky hard rock, all brutal riffs, lysergic solos and powerhouse drumming. Astbury is his usual self, minus a few edges shaved off – he wails less, perhaps due to advancing age, though he’s probably more atonal than usual. But, astonishingly, that fits Boris’ dinosaur-stomped soundscapes perfectly, as if this is the music for which Astbury’s been searching his entire life. (At the very least it’s gotta beat fronting the tattered remains of the Doors.) His gothic roar sits astride Teeth and Claws and We Are the Wolves as comfortably as Zeus atop Mount Olympus, while his melodramatic croon suits the ballad Magickal Child perfectly. Surrounded by a storm of Takeshi and Wata’s six-string fury and Atsuo’s extraordinary drum kit abuse, Astbury sounds more powerful, more graceful, more – dare it be said – soulful than he ever has in his long career.

The EP’s capper, though, might very well be the song on which Astbury doesn’t appear. In tribute to its new comrade, Boris covers the Cult classic Rain, slipping into the song’s psychedelic hipshake as if born to it, with Atsuo’s grooving drums and Wata’s ethereal vocals leading the way. It’s fuckin’ brilliant, in a way I never thought a Cult song could be – it almost makes me want to go back to the band’s catalog to see what else I might have missed. Until then, though, I’ll happily spin BXI repeatedly and marvel at how redemption can find even the most unlikely suspects.

- Michael Toland
The Shadowcops - A Big Pot Of Hot

'I'm on my own a wild life tamed stuck here on my own a dream I had always comes to a close hey sitting by me want to stay sitting by me want to fuck sitting by me shutup cannot say what I want to say I've just fallen in love with being alone' - Vaulted Sky

For a few months towards the tail end of merry '08 & on into early '09 these riff-rioteers were serious contenders to go stampeding over the top (& not solely as they did the cover in my front room), hamstringing sundry sulky little indie windbags & slashing piss-spikes down the crevices just one pick-strike on a string of opener Vehement Subterfuge would tear in the necks of cartilege deficient supposedly brutal metal militants who largely just tantrumise a semi-tone lower. They really shoulda done but they too fell foul of the half-unwritten law of Mancycussed noise barstads by splitting up after they released their debut album (see Jackie O, The fucking glorious Vipers, Black Fiction - who went as far as having 'em pressed up then shelving it, Tsuji Giri - not sure if my front room caused it or having me help screech 'I break the lightning' on Fulgura Frango but The Curse Of The 'Bow may or may not have played a part). There's nowt to stop you still getting this though. After all you're a ravenous addict of the derelict failures staining rock's great frock coat, aren't you? (And possibly are stricken with a fetish for pictures of Mozz dressed as a pissed priest sat in my living room). Admittedly, playing this again for the first time in a while & away from the tattered edges of tramp chaos it sounds even better, like a short spell of sobriety has given it a digital replastering. Much influenced and inspired by US hardcore like Husker Du and The Replacements (the silly buggers got me to sing Bastards Of Young with 'em a coupla times), The Wildhearts gone sci-fi as well as splattermanic, only more ballistically MASSIVE, especially in the twisting song structures that disperse riffs like Katyushka rocket launches that'd have Ginger & Tony Iommi palpitations this really should be heard outside the few shitpits they played before stalling.

'Knocked out slipped in someone's dignity help me out I want another fucking drink' - Take Yours Dave
Stu Gibson
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