Wild Mercury Sound

Boredoms: "Super Roots 9"

John Mulvey

By some immeasurably strong act of will, I’ve refrained from banging on about the Boredoms round these parts for the best part of three months – ever since, in fact, they played the best show I saw in 2007.

Happily, I have a very good excuse to go on about them again. I somehow managed to get through last year without buying a pricey Japanese import of a Boredoms record called “Super Roots 9”, and it transpires my restraint has paid off: the excellent Thrill Jockey operation out of Chicago have signed the band, and are starting the relationship with a UK/US release of this (unsurprisingly) astonishing live album.

Regular readers will have picked up some details from my obsession with the band, but I’ll reiterate. After about two decades of radically eclectic music, the Boredoms – or Vooredoms (the double 'o' is an infinity symbol), as they may be called now – are currently a four-piece, comprising Eye on vocals and various other things (mixing, electronics, and so on, though he’s recently added a fence of guitar necks to his armoury) and three drummers.

A basic Boredoms gig these days involves something like an hour and a half of ecstatic, relentless music, driving across the terrain of dance music, hardcore, Krautrock and, most reliably, delirious psychedelic freak-out. It’s some of the highest and most uplifting music I’ve ever heard, and it’s improved further by the imaginative ways Eye continues to expand his sound. Last summer, he played with 77 drummers in a New York park.

On Christmas Eve 2004, the band hooked up with a 24-piece choir to add massed cosmic ululations to the cascading, euphoric rhythms, whooshes and yelps that generally make up a Boredoms gig, and it’s this show that is captured on “Super Roots 9” – the first addition to their “Super Roots” series in years.

Without being precious about this, it’s impossible for even the most vivid recording to capture the relentless peaks of the Boredoms live. That said, “Super Roots 9” does a pretty good job of getting close. It begins with the choir alone, radiant, then kicks off into a 40 minute helter-skelter motorik rave called "LIVWE!!" that’ll be familiar – minus the choir, of course – to anyone who’s experienced the band live in the past few years.

The intensity of it is quite incredible, a sense that the full-on blast of the band is almost too much to handle – almost, but not quite. It’s this precarious position, so transcendent, yet so close to being over-saturated, that adds a frantic tension to this uncommonly uplifting music.

“Super Roots 9” is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, and it also makes me wonder, once again, whether Eye will ever try and capture this music that’s he’s been touring for years on a studio record. Maybe I’ll ask someone at Thrill Jockey and get back to you. . .


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