Music » Local Music

Cosmiccomic

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If George Clinton and Iggy Pop had gotten married way back when like their management wanted – to drum up some publicity, you know – their hyperactive kids might have turned out like Osaka, Japan’s Boredoms. Mixing punk, metal, screaming, nonsense, electronics, appropriation, destruction, starts, stops, potty language, burps and blithering infantilism, the bassist, guitarist, two drummers and one energetic vocalist of the Boredoms consistently present their own, uniquely whacked-out visions of the possibilities of music.

Lately, a new sonic sun has been rising in the Boredoms’ galaxy. It’s a tribal, psychedelic sound, a high-energy cosmic drone that, while still radiating with the Boredoms’ unique personality, also hints at spiritual conversion. What has inspired this change from their blur-of-sound beginnings?

"We do not know," admits bassist Hira. "We just follow our feelings. Our feeling now is Light and Love."

Are the Boredoms trading spirituality for their trademark scatology? Hira cryptically responds by explaining the title of the new record Super ae ("Say ar," he advised). The cloverleaf-like mandala symbol "ae" is a prayer, representing the creation of "someone who lives in space (who) made music together with others who live in space," he said.

As they take this new, conceptual leap forward, the Boredoms keep their craziness, but they also coalesce – as they rarely have before – into powerful, time-distorting trance-outs. Even with all of the cosmic consciousness emanating from Super ae, there’s room for postproduction high jinks, as Boredoms’ leader and vocalist Yamataka Eye tweaks the magnetic tape into an overdrive that would see steam coming out of Lee "Scratch" Perry’s ears. The cut-up shenanigans of their past set the stage for the progressive niche they’ve now found. Whereas before, the Boredoms’ musical ideas were displayed and destroyed at a dizzying rate, nowadays no one would ever accuse them of having a short attention span.

Though the band may be art-damaged, Hira maintains that there’s more to life than just art. "We have nothing against art," he says, "But there are so many more important things around. Like a bird singing, noise on the street, trees, sun, moon."

This awareness of the worlds of sound outside of music reflects itself in the approach the Boredoms take to creativity. As Hira explained the genesis of their musical creation: "It is composed and spontaneous improvisation in one."

Unfortunately for fans and the curious alike, the last two times the Boredoms came through Detroit, they were in the overcrowded and underappreciated circumstances of being once on the bottom of the bill at Lollapalooza and, the other occasion, opening for Nirvana. And that was half a decade ago. But anyone who has seen them in more intimate settings will attest to the amazing energy they convey on stage. If the audience is filled with fans, that energy is contagious. I remember seeing them once in Cleveland, in a tiny bar filled with people who had seen them open for Sonic Youth. From the outset, the audience was just as hyperactive as the band itself – slam dancing, jumping about, screaming along. Their encore ended when all the Boredoms exited the stage – by stage-diving into the audience.

As Hira says, "The biggest difference between live and recording is we can share energy with (the) audience, and we both can have a good time together."

Luckily, the Boredoms’ discography is just as amazing as their live shows. Records such as Chocolate Synthesizer and Soul Discharge display the breadth of the Boredoms’ playful genre-destruction. They graft their punky tunes, heavy riffing and crazy rhythms to a lot of humorous fooling around on electronics and explorations of the aesthetics of babbling. Also of note is their Super Roots series of recordings, musical sketches and ideas that may be spontaneous throwaways for them, but would be considered serious comeback moves if presented by lesser bands. On these records, anything goes, and it usually does so with quite a ruckus.

They may be unpredictable both in the studio and live, but one thing’s for sure: Whether they pull out the herky-jerk heavy rock spasms of their past or set their controls for the super-art of the sun, the Boredoms are anything but boring. Greg Baise gets electric in the Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com

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