Boris – AbsolutEgo – Review


AbsoluteEgo (Southern Lord)
by Craig Regala

OK, I give… I piddle on and on about the doom, heavy, stoner thing as “real rock,” “and part of the continuum,” etc., but this one doesn’t have much in common with “rock and roll” music structurally, although you kinda have to throw it in the rock pile, as long as it’s a real, real big pile… Call it ambient doom. Not much moves, it’s loud and very well recorded, it has guitar oscillations and a bass plod instead of grooves, and when it does “get going” (at the 21 minute mark, when the vocals, uh, happen), it has a vicious chop/chug ratio to appeal to the open-minded black metal fan in your house looking for something different.

Boris is as far from Sabbath as Sabbath is from, say, Oasis. Melody really has no place here, nor does the use of songs by way of the folk/blues/country tradition. The compositional methodology owes to forms outside of the common rock trajectory: Minimalism and industrial sound research, and to those that jettisoned from rock and roll, psychedelia cleared the terrain for space rock to develop. There is some curency with the 1000 year old use of drone to set a mood. I don’t know anything about traditional Japanese music and the culture that created it, but like Indian classicism, Gregorian chants, and Tibetian vocal music, my guess is that drone/hum plays a part.

Two of the three things I can compare it to, they mention: The Melvins’ Lysol (retitled Melvins upon legal actions from the maker of the cleaning fluid) and the band Earth. I’d add a slowed-down, bulked-up Filth/Cop-era Swans. Absolut Ego is very, very thick, often sounding like a loop of an earthquake with the resolve of tension coming from a five-story cement factory cracking from its moorings and falling over. Now and then, a minute passes which isn’t too far from other doom units like Electric Wizard, Sleep, and a couple more I can’t think of right now. There’s probably stuff on Relapse records that’s working in a similar terrain, but that’s not my beat. The bonus track is really close to Earth (the band – or the planet if you use the time it takes to circle the sun as its groove) and sounds like a fog horn at quarter speed. In lieu of actual “playing” as it is commonly understood, sound kinda happens from the amps and gets recorded for about eight minutes.
(PO Box 291967 Los Angeles, CA 90029)