Boris plays the El Rey Theatre tomorrow night, Saturday, November 12. The Japanese experimental rock group has carved out a dedicated fan base by constantly switching things up. Stoner rock, lurching doom metal, psychedelic pop, and noise-drone are just a few genres they've explored since forming in the mid-'90s. As with The Melvins, it's very hard to recommend one of their albums to a new listener as a good starting point. In fact, the band is obsessed with keeping fans on their toes, and here are five of the most delightful ways they've done exactly that.
5. Recycling album titles
Heavy Rocks was one of three albums released by Boris this year (the others being New Album and Attention Please). If you're getting a sense of deja vu all over again, that's because the group also released an album in 2002 that was called…wait for it…Heavy Rocks. Both albums have the nearly the same cover, but the 2002 one is orange, while the latest is purple.
4. Alternate mixes and shuffled track listings
In the 1960's, bands like The Beatles had different track listings for early U.S. and U.K. releases. Boris have done the same. The U.S. and Japanese versions of their 2008 release Smile, for example, not only had different track listings, but also had completely different mixes by separate producers. Compare the above clip of the U.S. version's “Laser Beam” with the Japanese version's “Hanate!”
3. Exclusive albums for concertgoers
Boris is fond of rewarding concertgoers with exclusive albums. When Boris and drone-legends Sunn O))) convened in London in 2007 to perform their collaborative work Altar, they pressed 551 copies of the album as a three LP picture-disc vinyl box set to be sold exclusively at that show, and nowhere else.
2. Completely revamping songs live
Sure, many bands change recorded songs by throwing in longer guitar solos or milking choruses when they play live. Boris, however, has been known to completely change up the program. Take their 1996 debut album Absolutego, a 65-minute doom-metal classic. They performed it in its entirety a few years ago live, but did the whole thing in under 16 minutes.
1. A tale of two “Veins.”
In 2006, Boris released an album called Vein in both the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. media noted that the band had gone crust-punk with this record, that they could have fit right in on a Converge and EyeHateGod bill. But people in Europe had no clue what the fuck these people were talking about, as the Vein released there consisted of two noise-drone tracks with no vocals. That said, the exterior album artwork was the same, and there was no track listing — all of the tracks were simply untitled. The only way to tell the difference at all was the number of grooves in the vinyl.