Friday, February 26, 2010

Boredoms - Chocolate Synthesizer (1994)

| Noise Rock | Experimental Rock | Punk Rock |

Of all the artists in Japan's thriving noise-music community, the Boredoms undoubtedly had the most fun. Although their maniacally extreme cacophony was by no means accessible listening, it was underpinned by a gleeful sense of humor that helped them find a limited (but still surprisingly wide) audience among alternative rockers. A typical Boredoms track might feature massively distorted guitars, squealing synths, any number of odd found-object noisemakers, or studio-manipulation effects; conventional song structures are thrown out the window in favor of abrupt, whiplash-inducing changes of direction. With Sonic Youth and Nirvana counting themselves among the Boredoms' fans, the group actually signed major-label deals during the early '90s, both in Japan and the U.S., and played the Lollapalooza main stage. Although the Boredoms' American deal eventually fell through, they continued to record steadily in Japan, progressing into a sort of trance-inducing, psychedelia-tinged experimental rock indebted to the '70s Krautrock movement.

It can still be said that they're the Boredoms, but it can also be said that they're not simply content to totally repeat themselves, established as the band's general formula is. The crowned princes and princesses of "wackoaggro," here the Boredoms start to let more of their prog-rock fascination creep in, often doing so to brilliant effect. "Acid Police," not merely a great opener but also one of the group's best songs, period, offers an a cappella call and response between Eye and his main vocal cohort, which eventually turns into a pounding, roiling epic stomp, drawing as much from Kraut-rock trance as metal, and fading out on an even more aggressive drumming note. The title track, is simply dreamy -- a brief but serene number working in odd synth sounds and various percussion noises. Other ghosts of early Faust and both Amon Düül collectives show up more than once (perhaps most hilariously on "B for Boredoms," which starts as a heavily distorted "Gimme a B!" call-and-response chant before turning into a mini-Metallica epic as voiced by helium-loaded chipmunks). As a result, even the more typically Boredoms numbers sound just a bit more weirdly intricate. Arguably things are a little tighter and more focused all around (even the trumpet playing sounds almost smooth at times), and those who appreciated the go-everywhere-at-once feeling of many previous releases might find the relative straightforwardness in songs like "Mama Brain" (at least up until the end) a bit disappointing. The soundscrapes of "Action Synthesizer Hero," though, which feature singing counterbalanced against pure white noise before launching into another series of instantaneous time signature switches and loudness followed by quiet, make it clear that the Boredoms merely know how to work ever more ways than before.

Catalog: 9 45814-2 (Reprise Records)
Album overview on Allmusic
Download (192kbps)

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