Atsuo (left) and Takeshi (right) live in 2008
|Also known as||Fangs Anal Satan|
Boris (ボリス Borisu) is a Japanese experimental music band formed in 1992 in Tokyo and composed of drummer Atsuo Mizuno, guitarist/bassist Takeshi Ohtani and guitarist/keyboardist Wata. All three members participate in vocal performance. The band is named after a song of the same name on the Melvins' 1991 album Bullhead. Their debut album Absolutego was released in 1996 on their own record label Fangs Anal Satan, followed by 24 more studio albums (as well as a number of EPs, singles and collaborative albums) on various labels around the world.
Boris was originally a four-piece band, with Nagata on drums. Nagata departed in 1996 leaving Atsuo to take over drumming duties, and the band has remained a three-piece since.
In Japan, Boris release most of their music on the indie label Inoxia Records. Though relatively unknown in their home country, a recent series of reissues on US label Southern Lord Records has seen their popularity in North America increase dramatically, even gaining them widespread recognition in the mainstream music press. Many of Boris' vinyl releases feature similar artwork for the inner label of the record. This is a parody of the original Roger Dean artwork that Virgin Records used for many of their releases (seen here).
2005's Pink was met with considerable critical praise and a strong response from music fans when reissued in the US on Southern Lord Records. Blender magazine and SPIN magazine both named it one of 2006's best albums. The album also topped the metal section of Canadian magazine Exclaim 's 2006 Reader's Poll, and was in the top 10 of Pitchfork Media's Top 50 Records of 2006.
Boris focus a lot of their time on touring. In an interview, Atsuo said:
"That we tour so much and release so many albums, I think it is representative of what we’re about. Direct communication is something we’ve lost in this day and age. It’s a shame – [even] interviews are over [the] phone. I think it's important to see people face to face – that's why it's so important to go on tour. It's something very basic to humans that we’ve lost lately."
Boris opened for Nine Inch Nails on part of the fall 2008 segment of the Lights in the Sky tour. They also appeared on the avant-garde metal soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's film The Limits of Control. Regarding Boris, Jarmusch said that "what's really remarkable is when they play live they're in the mode, in a way, of jazz musicians, not structurally or musically, but the way they listen to what the others are doing and build on it. Each time they play something it's obviously different, every time."
Boris played the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York where they performed Altar in collaboration with Sunn O))). On May 29, 2010, Boris performed a cover of The Doors song "The End" with Ian Astbury at Vivid Festival on Sydney. Boris and Astbury released a four-song EP in September 2010 on Southern Lord and Daymare Records that contains four tracks entitled Teeth and Claws, We are Witches, Rain (The Cult cover), Magickal Child.
In 2011, Boris released three albums: New Album, their first major release with a major producer on AVEX/Tearbridge label, Heavy Rocks a sequel to the album with the same name, and Attention Please. The latter two albums were released on the label Sargent House. In 2014, Boris released CDs of archival material under the names Archive I and Archive II, and the new album Noise through Sargent House in June of that year.
In 2017, the band's 25th anniversary, they considered retirement after one final album. However, a successful songwriting and recording process for that album encouraged the band to continue. The album Dear was released internationally in July 2017 through Sargent House. A five-song EP titled Tears was released on June 26, 2019, and the band announced the release of their latest full-length album, LφVE & EVφL, expected in August 2019.
Musical style and influence
Throughout their career, Boris have made deliberate efforts to avoid a strong association with any musical style. In particular, they do not consider themselves a heavy metal band despite frequently being categorized as such. In an interview, drummer Atsuo stated:
"Having some kind of preconceived message or theme is very boring to me. It becomes a crutch. Just say what you want to say."
Key genres they have been associated with include experimental music, experimental rock, noise music, noise rock, experimental/avant-garde metal, doom metal, post-metal, drone metal, sludge metal, psychedelic music, psychedelic rock, psychedelic metal, and stoner rock. While they emerged as a sludge metal band with strong hardcore punk influences, their subsequent releases employed elements of a wide variety of genres, including drone music, old-school industrial music, ambient music, acid rock, garage rock, shoegazing, dream pop, J-pop, and crust punk. While the band's debut album, Absolutego, featured a "65-minute track of oozing, slow motion, Melvins-inspired drone rock/metal," its follow-up Amplifier Worship incorporated psychedelia and jam band influences to this sound. Their third album Flood incorporated elements from drone. 2005's Akuma no Uta and Pink engaged in different stylistic varieties, including shoegazing and post-rock. Vein (2007) was released with a "hardcore" and a "drone" version, whereas 2011's simultaneously released albums New Album, Attention Please and Heavy Rocks incorporated shoegazing, electropop and heavy metal influences, respectively. Noise (2014) featured elements from grunge music.
During their career, Boris has collaborated with various artists of different musical genres, including Merzbow, Sunn O))), Keiji Haino and Ian Astbury. Atsuo has also named Earth as an influence.
The variety of their music dictates that their setup in a live environment be equipped with many different effects pedals and other guitar accessories. Wata uses an E-bow to achieve bow-like sounds or to manipulate feedback; this device is held in the hand, like a pick, but relies on a magnetic field vibration to move the guitar's strings. Wata's live effects setup has consistently been centered on the Roland Space Echo and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff.
Takeshi typically plays a double-necked bass/guitar live, which allows him to drone away on the guitar during longer numbers but quickly switch to bass without needing to switch instruments. He used an Ibanez SG-style model, and a Steinberger Spirit, before acquiring a replica of a rare Rickenbacker double-neck in 2009, custom built by First Act. He previously used a Music Man Stingray bass. Wata uses Gibson Les Paul custom guitars with Orange heads and cabinets, as well as a Matamp head also favoured by stoner metal groups Sleep and High on Fire and an Ampeg 810 cabinet; Takeshi uses Sunn Model T amps with Marshall 412 cabinet and an Ampeg SVT II bass amp. Wata and Takeshi tune their instruments in a variety of tunings, most of which are lower than standard E tuning (most commonly B flat tuning), often resulting in the range normally associated with Baritone guitars.
Since 2006, Boris has had a working relationship with the guitarist Michio Kurihara, previously a member of White Heaven and The Stars, and a current member of Ghost. Together, they have released two full length collaborations, Rainbow and Cloud Chamber, and Kurihara has guested on several Boris recordings. He has also toured consistently with the band as a second guitarist since 2007. With Boris, Kurihara uses vintage Greco clone of a Gibson SG guitar with Bigsby Vibrato bar, a pair of Fender Super Reverb amplifiers, and an array of exotic effects pedals, including several made by the Zvex company.
All members go by one name only.
- Takeshi – vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar (1992–present)
- Wata – vocals, lead guitar, keyboards (1992–present)
- Atsuo – vocals (1992–present), drums, tambourine, electronics (1996–present)
- Nagata – drums (1992–1996)
- Support/touring musicians
- Michio Kurihara – guitars (2007–2012)
- Studio albums
- Absolutego (1996)
- Amplifier Worship (1998)
- Flood (2000)
- Heavy Rocks (2002)
- Akuma no Uta (2003)
- Boris at Last: Feedbacker (2003)
- The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked (2004)
- Dronevil (2005)
- Sound Track from Film "Mabuta no Ura" (2005)
- Pink (2005)
- The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 2 (2006)
- The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 3 (2006)
- Vein (2006)
- Smile (2008)
- New Album (2011)
- Heavy Rocks (2011)
- Attention Please (2011)
- Präparat (2013)
- Noise (2014)
- The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked Extra (2014)
- Urban Dance (2015)
- Warpath (2015)
- Asia (2015)
- Dear (2017)
- LφVE & EVφL (2019)
- Collaboration albums
- Black: Implication Flooding-w/ Keiji Haino (1998)
- Megatone-w/ Merzbow (2002)
- 04092001-w/ Merzbow (2004)
- Sun Baked Snow Cave-w/ Merzbow (2005)
- Altar-(w/ Sunn O))) (2006)
- Rainbow-(w/ Michio Kurihara (2006/2007)
- Walrus/Groon EP-w/ Merzbow (2007)
- Rock Dream Live Album-w/ Merzbow (2007)
- Cloud Chamber-w/ Michio Kurihara (2008)
- BXI-(w/ Ian Astbury (2010)
- Klatter-w/ Merzbow (2011)
- EROS-w/ Endon (2015)
- Gensho-w/ Merzbow (2016)
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- Altar liner notes (Daymare 3LP pressing)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-02-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Nicolas Millan Inactive Contributor. "Boris: Interview: | Prefix". Prefixmag.com. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
- "Boris, HEALTH, the Bug to Open for Nine Inch Nails". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
- Jim Jarmusch and Alan Licht, "Invisible Jukebox," The Wire 309, November 2009, p. 23.
- "Ian Astbury and Boris The End @ Sydney Opera House 2010". YouTube. 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
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- 8 Apr 2014 (2014-04-08). "Boris on Twitter: "Boris Up Date about New Album and Tour! "". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
- "Boris Celebrates 25 Years By Cleaving The Earth In Two With 'Absolutego'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
- "Boris 25th Anniversary Album "Dear"". borisheavyrocks.com. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
- "Boris announce new album, LφVE & EVφL, plus North American tour". Consequence of Sound. 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2019-06-28.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2014-12-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2013-07-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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- Jacobs, Justin (14 September 2009). "Boris to Release Japanese Heavy Rock Hits 7-Inch Series". Paste. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- Camp, Zoe (17 June 2014). "Boris – Noise". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
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- "So Grim So True So Real: Boris". Invisible Oranges. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
- Bath, Tristan (10 June 2013). "'Noise Is Japanese Blues': An Interview With Boris". The Quietus. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
- Temere, Rex (9 May 2013). "Boris Performs a Lesson in Doom Metal & Sex". Pretext Social Club. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (4 August 2016). "A Brief History of Post-Metal". Bandcamp. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- McClure, Steve (March 2007). "Filtering the Flies". Billboard. 119 (11): 14.
- Geslani, Michelle (19 May 2014). "Listen: Boris' fiery new rocker "Vanilla"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- Carver, Andrew (31 July 2008). "Boris, Babylon – Ottawa, 13/7/2008". Penny Black Music. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
- Currin, Grayson Haver (21 March 2016). "Boris / Merzbow: Gensho". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- "Boris". BBC. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
- "Boris - Absolutego". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
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- "Beginner's Guide: Boris". Treblezine. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- Eduardo Rivadavia (2005-04-19). "Akuma No Uta - Boris | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
- Thom Jurek (2006-05-16). "Pink - Boris | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
- William York. "Boris | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
- Grayson Currin (2011-05-20). "Boris: Attention Please / Heavy Rocks Album Review". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2017-07-14.
- Thomas, Fred. "Boris - Noise". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- Yu Onoda (2011-03-09). "世界の音楽シーンを席巻しながらも、国内メディアでは黙殺されてきた"世界で最も知られる日本のバンド"Boris。その知られざる実態に迫る!". Retrieved 2018-10-03.