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Friday, July 25, 2008

BOREDOMS "Super Roots 9"

Most of the postings here take the form of "Maybe you've never heard of this, but it's amazing!" but now and then I think it's helpful to post a little something of the form: "You've heard of this, but is it worth buying?" You know, a review! Crazy, right? So I'm going to assume you've heard of the Boredoms and know something of their history. Maybe you also know that they transformed into a 3-drummers and noises band called the Vooredoms (where the "oo" is supposed to be written as a sideways infinity symbol) which eventually reverted to the name Boredoms again. So along comes this album, the first release by the Boredoms that's not a remix thing in who-knows-how-many years, and the first official release of the full-blown Vooredoms style music.

I have actually really been digging the Vooredoms sound, which I've heard by downloading recordings of live performances. It's pretty much always the same basic performance with variations, one big piece with various movements. Band leader Eye plays what sounds like a big euphoric-sounding keyboard chord sped up and slowed down on a reel-to-reel. I don't know if that's what it is, but that's what it usually sounds like. There's chanting, truckin-along 3-drummer drumming, Yoshimi (the other founding member still with the band) sings, and the whole thing repeatedly builds to climaxes on top of climaxes with chill-out sections here and there to give you a break. It's really not the kind of thing I would have listened to a decade ago, but I have discovered that it actually makes the PERFECT exercise music! Seriously, the ebb and flow works perfectly for a workout.

So Super Roots 9 is not quite a recording of what I just described! It's almost the same thing, but most of the noise and synthesizer sounds have been replaced by a choir. At first I thought that the chord sounds had just been replaced by one of those "voice" keyboard settings with lots of reverb, but from studying the pictures in the enclosed booklet, it would appear that an entire real choir performed this. (there are also some sleigh bells at the beginning, since this was a Christmas Eve performance) I'm sure it was much more impressive in person. In fact, the entire premise of this line-up is much more about being cool to see live, which is probably why there has been no official release of this material until now.

Unfortunately, the choir is a bit of a let-down to me. I have a hard time with music that's too nice, that's a little too "correct." The wilder sounds that usually make up this piece are far more interesting to hear, and when some harsher noises get mixed in and Eye let's loose with a little screaming, that's when things start getting exciting. That happens a little bit on this recording, but just barely. So the bottom line is this won't replace my bootleg Vooredoms recordings in the workout mix, most of which is recorded just as well as this and sounds more exciting. It's probably smart of them to make an official release of this, and I understand why you'd want it documented, but it's not the best representation of this material.

Nice packaging though, with the full score included so you can sing along at home. On Thrill Jockey.

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