Boris - Love & Evol
Third Man Records
Drone, Experimental Rock
Disc 1: 3 songs (31:33) Disc 2: 4 songs (30:06)
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Goat

At a time when the eyes of the world are on one Boris as he seeks to win an election to defeat communism and heroically lead the United Kingdom out of the dastardly clutches of the European Union / cowardly sell a once-proud nation to Trump and the Russians (delete as your own views may deem appropriate!) it seems only fitting to finally catch up with the less famous Boris, Japanese dronefathers extraordinaire. This double-album is their twenty-fifth full-length release, remarkable for any band but especially one so proclivitous (not a word, but it should be) - whether you prefer the early drone experiments or the later, more freewheeling rocking eras of the band, or indeed all the various collaborations and shades of noise rock inbetween, there's much to appreciate in a discography that yours truly still hasn't fully got to grips with. Lφve & Evφl is a step away from the aggressive sounds explored on 2017's Dear; indeed, some of the material here is amongst their lightest and, well, nicest. Opener Away From You is practically post-rock, slowly and gently building, breathy shoegaze-sque male vocals downright tender (and a reminder that guitarist Wata and drummer Atsuo are married, possibly the longest and most successful current musical/personal partnership in rock since the end of Sonic Youth?) and indeed, beautiful.

Jarringly, the following Coma begins with a burst of relatively loud ambient noise and continues through a seven-minute droning piece, which reveals the main flaw to Lφve & Evφl - as good as some of the songs can be, the album as a whole hangs together very precariously to the point where it could almost be a compilation. EVOL, for example, is a sixteen-minute piece beginning with a section built mainly around tribal drumming and percussion from Atsuo with waves of droning feedback in the background; hypnotic and undoubtedly awesome, but having little to do with the tracks before or after! It turns to ambience for a lengthy central section that allows the guitar drones to shimmer in the foreground with more of those breathy vocals, joined by Wata's pleasant female vocals in a brief but incredible duet with some subtle electronics in the background, turning back to post-rock territory as the climb out of droning feedback begins halfway through.

It's hard to recognise as a sixteen-minute song as it flows by so smoothly, feeling less of a chore than, say, equally lengthy pieces from Esoteric, yet the British band are much harsher and listener-unfriendly in intention and succeed at their style of post-doom as much as Boris do with theirs. The Evφl half kicks off with the droning, ominous uzume, spacey bursts of sound reminding you of exactly why sitting through the hour-long Absolutego was so rewarding, while the following LOVE is a wonderful mixture of Hawkwind-esque psychedelia and post-Sabbathian slowness, the mixture of vocals again very effective as the band indulge in a little amplifier worship. It does cut off a little abruptly, as if the band could have gone on another twenty minutes but decided not to, and the resulting In the Pain (T) is a lovely short bit of guitar ambience, albeit yet again not one that fits well with the preceding song. And by the time closer Shadow of Skull rolls around, another ominous droning piece with the barest hint of harsher if still very breathy vocals, it's hard not to view this as a solid release from Boris - perhaps less vital and genre-breaking than past highlights, but still excellent and more than proof that their 2017 decision to continue making music rather than retiring was a wise one.

Killing Songs :
Away From You, EVOL, LOVE
Goat quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Boris that we have reviewed:
Boris - Smile reviewed by James and quoted 87 / 100
Boris - Absolutego reviewed by Goat and quoted 95 / 100
Boris - Pink reviewed by Adam and quoted 93 / 100
Boris - Amplifier Worship reviewed by Dee and quoted 77 / 100
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