Pinning down or even describing Osaka, Japan’s Boredoms has been the bane of music writers for a long time now. Born sometime in the mid 80s as a project between Yamataka (previously Yamantaka and Yamatsuka) Eye and Tabata Mitsuru (later of the amazing Zeni Geva), Boredoms did not coalesce into a real band until around 1988 with the release of “Onanie Bomb Meets the Sex Pistols”
1989 would see the release of “Soul Discharge” and the introduction of Yoshimi P-we as a full-time member of the band. She has remained the longest-serving member aside from Eye who is inarguably the nucleus and spiritual center of the group. Without going through the entire discography (it really should be explored, if only for the amazing artwork and song titles), this period up until around the mid 90s was the subject of some of the laziest classification by critics ever seen. They were generally loved but terms like “spazz-rock” and “chaos masters” began to choke off any deeper exploration of the band. While these characteristics aren’t really off-target, they really shortchange the genius that was behind the scenes. Listen to “Pop Tatari” for a good taste of this era, I heard it once referred to as possibly the strangest record to ever come out on a major label (yes, Warner Bros. Japan). Their tours of the U.S. during this time left audiences bewildered and energized…and sometimes infuriated.
The true fans were tested by the sparse years of the later 90s with only occasional releases in the “Super Roots” series, most of which were not available in the U.S, until 2007. Somewhere around this time saw the departure of longtime second vocalist Yoshikawa Toyohito who was one of the great hallmarks of the early era. Die-hards had to take the chance on expensive imports that some found very trying. See “Super Roots 3”, a 33:33 single song that is a driving 4/4 punk song that doesn’t let up til the very end. It’s meant to be a karaoke song, hence no lyrics. Also, there is “Super Roots 5” a 65 minute song of cymbal and guitar noise that feels like being run over by a train for an hour. I love them both, by the way. When “Super æ“ Came out in 1998, there was much skepticism surrounding the band. This album and the next two e.p.s (Super Roots 7 & Super Roots 8) definitely showed a new direction into psychedelia without the loss of any of the challenging or inexplicable bits. By this time, the lineup was three drummers, guitar, bass and Eye on vocals and whatever else he could conjure.
When “Vision Creation Newsun” came out in 1999, those too invested in old Boredoms shook their heads and finally died away like dinosaurs. The rest of us just saw it as another step forward for a band that could never sit still. A big step forward. “Vision Creation Newsun” is a massive undertaking that should have collapsed in on itself for sheer overreach. Boredoms always seem to astound people by their capacity to keep going one better and not become lame and contrived. This is the album I would always recommend to someone looking for something new to listen to. I even offered to pay for it if they didn’t like it but was never taken up on that. Every record they have ever made has been great, but this is a true high-water mark, it’s a tough album to describe and really do justice to how good it actually is.
I will try…