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.
All three have something to recommend to them, depending on your tastes. Something that would seem like utter jackassery in someone else’s hands is inspired jackassery in theirs. Vice Records is giving a domestic release to Roots 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8, which showcases the evolution from category 1 Boredoms (twinkle twinkle magicfrog what?) to category 3’s beautiful evocation of controlled transcendence. A pure category 2 release – Super Roots 3 – is included for good luck, or good something. Thirty minutes worth, no less, and probably the most categorizable Boredoms album outside of Seadrum/House of Sun, a release which is exactly as you’d think it to be judging from the title.
Not everyone is ok with yelling and sound effects – in all seriousness the closest comparison is something like early Coil during the Gold is the Metal… era – and they might want to skip the first Super Roots. But they’d be fools to do so, missing out on quite a bit of chimes and chanting and screeching silliness. The entire album is all of 20 minutes long, and never stays in one mode for any length of time before switching over to an entirely new kind of farting/burping experience. Again, being a “quality brand” of “noise rock” these sorts of “experimental” pieces are crafted with purpose, not from laziness, and make a far gentler introduction to the band than – for example – my wife’s least favorite Boredoms song ever, “Acid Police” off of Chocolate Synthesizer. (I think it’s catchy and more snazzy than most musical endurance tests myself, but there’s no accounting for taste.)
Super Roots 3 is a firm category 2, a fast-tempo race with a singular hook that carries everything else. It bypasses the shortcomings of an acid revivalist band like Acid Mothers Temple by replacing looping tedium (sorry, never really cared for them) with speed. I’d like to think Japanese bodybuilders work out to stuff like this rather than the J-Pop equivalent of Ace of Bass – presuming that’s not a meaningless distinction – but to be frank I’m not even sure if bodybuilding is that popular in the land of ninjas and Pocky. Regardless, this is a muscular track (har har) and would be a pretty easy sell with your more open-minded metal and punk fans.
Now, Super Roots 5 stars off real quiet. Can’t barely hear nothing but some filters farting off resonance bursts and some yelling and BLAAAAAAAAAMO, ouch, that’s a lot of cymbals. So don’t get fooled and just let things start without waking the neighbors or hurting your ears. Nationalized health care is coming by hook or by crook, so your ears belong to me, hippie. Don’t ruin them for cheap kicks.
Super Roots 5 is a mixture of categories 1 and 2, and clocks in at over an hour in a single track named “Go!!!!!!” – I may have missed an exclamation point or two. Unlike Super Roots 3, there’s no real hook, but rather symbol swirls and an agressive drone that modulates slowly over the course of the track. It goes somewhere – wherever that may be – but takes its sweet time doing so. I could see this being good to clear out a bar at 3 am, though I must confess that my first impression left me to believe that it would be ideal combined with a rug and some pharma-grade DXM. Regardless of your hobbies, the end of the track is quite tight.
Super Roots 6 feels like it picks up right where 5 left, with a skittery drone that breaks into a minute of silence, followed by a sweet atmospheric track; a refreshing break from what’s come before. That’s a good way to describe this entry as a whole, since every bit is slightly different (and named after random numbers) despite having longer, more fleshed-out songs than most of these. The broken-toy-weirdo aesthetic is firmly entrenched, but Super Roots 6 is, by and large, quite pretty. Outside of 3‘s straightforward groove, it’s probably also the most accessible of the lot, despite the fractures – lots of humming and chopped percussion, odd bits stuffed into odd places at off times. Quite relaxing. Eye sure does love that phase pedal though, and it shows up in nearly every piece. Super Roots 6 also has the coolest looking cover of the bunch.
Later-period Boredoms fans will especially dig Super Roots 7 and the way it straddles periods two and three by being rocky and repetitive but still grasping for a unifying melody. The twenty-minute middle track (“Borigonal”) literally unzips itself halfway through the song before swinging back into a variation on the earlier theme with a harder edge, which itself turns into a jazzy Portishead turntablist thing that is far better than any of those adjectives would make you believe.
The first and last tracks that bookend the main piece are continuations of the same theme – they may even have been the same work, just cut apart to accomodate the larger, “borigonal” spasm. They’re also not nearly as ballsy and dramatic, and the closer is definitely a kind of let-down after all that gooey middle goodness is gotten through.
Supposedly, Super Roots 8 is some kind of children’s TV show soundtrack (according to Wikipedia, for whatever that’s worth). I’d be interested in seeing the intro, just to see how badly they mangled the original song, even though I’m becoming increasingly convinced that anime in general is bad for children and adults alike. There are three iterations on this, with the same tonal singing but deeply varied percussion elements. The first is easily the most impressive, with wild swings and bursts, while the second is a klunky drum machine mix (as indicated by the name). The third is almost – almost – a traditional dub track, in the King Tubby sense, except it has no real bassline to speak of. A nice end to a very weird ride.
If you held a gun to my head, or even a sharp pencil, I’d rank them something like 6, 7, 3, 5, 8, 1. Hopefully the rumors of the NYC performance of 77 Drum in July are true (Boredoms frontman Eye + 77 drumkits = gotta see this). Boredoms live are something to be seen; the last tour had them playing with three drum kits while Eye jumped about using this little spherical motion detector thing to trigger samples and control a filter. Despite how sloppy that might sound, it was a tight and focused performance.What someone unfamiliar with the group might want to buy is heavily dependent on what their tastes are; or more accurately, where the boundaries of their tastes lie.