Dusted Reviews

Boris with Merzbow - Sun Baked Snow Cave

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Boris with Merzbow

Album: Sun Baked Snow Cave

Label: Hydra Head

Review date: Oct. 3, 2005

Everyone loves Boris, the Japanese sludge/noise power trio named for the opening track on the Melvins’ massively heavy Bullhead. For years now, the reliable outfit has been prodigious in releasing tons of material on obscure imprints, fueling collector frenzies. Their first two encounters with Masami Akita, a.k.a. Merzbow, are highly sought after goodies, so give thanks that this latest encounter with the archangel of noise himself should be easy to score.

After their last full-length, Akuma no Uta – where Boris erupted at the intersection of Cavity and the Stooges – this record’s single 62-minute piece is quite a change of pace. The first several minutes deliciously confound expectations, featuring a stark acoustic guitar solo that consists of delicate strumming, gently intoned intervals that sound like the tolling of bells, and an introspective direction. Perhaps the guitarist has been digesting solo recordings by the likes of Taku Sugimoto (back when he played more than four notes per minute, that is), Burkhard Stangl, or Relator-era Tetuzi Akiyama. Regardless of its influences, it’s quite lovely stuff.

When Merzbow enters at the 11-minute mark, the wash of feedback and mangled tones he looses is relatively restrained, ebbing and flowing in volume, fading in and out. The way he envelops the guitar recalls recent guitar/electronics releases like Too Beautiful to Burn. As this dynamic continues, the sound thickens (as, presumably, other members of Boris contribute to feedback, electronics, and sampling), creeping steadily to the fore and overwhelming the acoustic beginnings. Indeed, as the piece continues, it begins to throb with intensity, churning up layer after layer of palpably rich sound. At times a near-lyricism bubbles up through the mire, either vast reverberant low tones or distant electric guitar sustains locked in struggle with hissing, gurgling squall.

As ever, the delights of noise music are to be found in the constant mutation of the sound, the deft alteration of force and dynamics within the overall field. Even when the piece becomes full-on Merzbowian fury, there is a quicksilver element to it. Maybe it’s this restlessness, this refusal to settle despite its picturesque title and flirtation with the lyrical. For even when the oscillation of the opening minutes returns at the conclusion (with the acoustic replaced by an electric), there is a sinister, slowly phasing drone that casts a dark shadow on what might otherwise be a pastoral scene. This is certainly not a world-beating or groundbreaking recording, but it’s a provocative meeting nonetheless. And don’t be fooled by the occasional “soft” passages: this record is all about tough-nosed tension.

By Jason Bivins

Read More

View all articles by Jason Bivins

Find out more about Hydra Head

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.