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BORIS - Smile


Japanese sound-shapers BORIS have been twisting evil waveforms since the early nineties. Each body of work yields an unpredictable yet always artful musical outing. Smile, the band’s latest offers a range of sounds from their high-voltage, psychedelic rock ’n roll to their spaced-out, ambient, drone rock.  The album has been released in two versions differing primarily in mix (but also song titles, track order, and artwork).  The U.S. version (which will be the focus of this review) was mixed by the band themselves, while the Japanese version was mixed by You Ishihara (THE STARS, ex-WHITE HEAVEN), which the band entrusted with creative freedom in the mix-down process.  To note, the U.S. version’s mix showcases a relatively more straight-ahead sound, whereas the Japanese version is more experimental.  Smile kicks off with an excellent cover of PYG’s “Flower Sun Rain,” a ballad-esque track with a remarkably memorable verse melody.  The following three tracks smoke with hefty, driving rock ’n roll akin to work on their albums, Pink and Heavy Rock.  Characterized by mega distortion and super-high gain guitars, these tracks are nestled in the “most accessible” category.  The rest of the album transitions to spacier, drone-friendly territory.  “My Neighbor Satan” is a winning shoegazer track, though it’s not devoid of heavy guitars and noise.  “KA RE HA TE TA SA KI-No Ones Grieve” (a reprise of the track originally released on The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked 2), “You Were Holding an Umbrella,” and the untitled closing track are lengthy drone jams that are somewhat difficult to evaluate due to their sometimes aimless “whatever goes” approach.  For a band who pride themselves on steering clear of stylistic expectations, BORIS have, for the first time, assembled an album of various styles on a single album.  Past recordings all showcased a very focus and cohesive approach, be it rock versus drone or intense versus mellow.  This time, BORIS have given everyone something to smile about. (Southern Lord)