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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Boris

by Mike McGuirk

Artist Spotlight: Boris


Because their records weren't always available in the U.S., and there weren't a whole lot of people playing the drone/doom/stoner metal they'd allegedly mastered, for years Boris were these mysterious Japanese dudes (and dudette!) so cool they named their band after a Melvins song (off  Bullhead) and put out records that consisted of one hour-long track, records so cool that you only heard about them from the very biggest metal dorks. 

Formed in 1996, the band has released more than 20 albums, including a half-dozen different collaborations, most notably with Japanese noise-messiah Merzbow and American hipster-drone kings Sunn0))), that are mostly still unavailable in this country. Their first and third albums,  Absolutego and Flood, are in fact single-track hour-long deals that are both awesome and, of course, not available for streaming. But the band has continually moved far beyond the borders of any one genre, into noise, garage rock, punk, straight stoner rock and even radio-friendly emo-metal. Nor is it a linear progression: They'll follow up an unadulterated pop record with a crashing freakout with Merzbow, then go back to playing breathy Radiohead tunes. Then more heaviness. It's weird, and it's gone on for years.

For a band that so tirelessly prolific -- they put out three albums in 2011 alone, including two on the same day -- this has made for some super pop-y moments that, when you put them against the ultra-heavy psychedelic-drone stuff, gets downright confusing. It's obvious that they're not trying to cash in -- if that were the case, they'd pick a genre. Maybe they're exploring the various possibilities of music or something. That's crazy.

Anyway, for folks unfamiliar with this band but intrigued by their approach to music, we've compiled the records they've made available digitally below.

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