Wild Mercury Sound

Wilco, Boris, Tuesday

John Mulvey

I've been thinking some more about that new Wilco album, not least in response to a post from someone called Andrew. "It appears every thinking American songwriter," he writes "has been listening to Midlake's "The Trials Of Van Occupanther" and decided that America and Fleetwood Mac circa "Rumours" and "Tusk" are the way forward."

You can see his point, though I imagine Jeff Tweedy would laugh incredulously at the idea he'd been inspired to do anything by Midlake. To be honest, I'm one of the few people around Uncut who doesn't really like "Van Occupanther": a couple of nice songs at the start, sure, but its pursuit of a bland aesthetic seems a little too successful to me, along with the slightly mimsy post-Mercury Rev mythologising. After a while, I forget it's playing.

Someone in the office mentioned Fleetwood Mac when Wilco was playing the other day, specifically the deluxe passage of harmony guitars towards the end of "Impossible Germany". And maybe "Sky Blue Sky" works for me in the same way that the Midlake album works for so many of my colleagues: I can take the AOR sonorities because I'm comfortable (OK, smug) in the knowledge that Wilco could spiral off into some heavily awkward free jam at any moment. It's a dubious way of measuring an album's worth, but then blogs are meant to be all about subjectivity, right?

Anyway, enough critical hand-wringing/waffle. A quick mention for today's Japanese freak-out. "Rainbow" is the new album from Boris, a prolific bunch of doom-mongers who've developed quite a cult following thanks to the burgeoning interest in very slow leftfield metal (Uncut contributor Simon Reynolds has been pondering this at length on his Blissblog recently; interesting read).

"Rainbow" is their first effort this year - I think - and is a collaboration with the guitarist Michio Kurihara, who normally plays in the terrific psych band, Ghost. Kurihara seems to have mellowed Boris out a touch: after the obliterating thud of "Rafflesia", "Rainbow" is a lot lighter on its feet than typical Boris efforts. The title track, especially, recalls Damo Suzuki-era Can. Not much like Fleetwood Mac, it's fair to say, though I'm sure the Lindsey Buckingham loyalists could probably point me in the direction of one of his weirder experiments as an analogue. Couldn't you?


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