People are edging their way into and out of the crowded music section of the bookstore. It's just a few days before Christmas and shoppers, "approved music" lists clutched tightly, are looking to score. "Do you have the soundtrack to Dreamgirls?" "I heard this song on NPR by a folk singer. Uhm…Kris Delmhorst? Can you recommend anything by her?"
The guy behind the counter fields all questions (though I did help out with the Delmhorst thing) while wishing that the season was over. Because Eric's views of Christmas music align perfectly with Michael Stipe's views of love songs (in a word: odious), an endless stream of un-holiday tunes eases out of the music room speakers.
"Hey, you have got to hear this!" What followed at first came across as a slightly more aggressive and electrified version of Godspeed You Black Emperor. After almost ten minutes of "Intro," during which an ominous guitar figure is slowly repeated and joined by reverb-laden shards of guitar scrap, the music exploded into a heavy duty psychedelic/metallic freakout that was decidedly not in the holiday spirit. The best way to describe it is this: imagine what it would have sounded like had those gigantic amplifiers been real on Neil Young's Live Rust stage.
Heavy is the word.
But it was more than that. The second track ("Ibitsu") shifted gears from its early, trippy metal to more of a hardcore kind of thing. Things get so loud at one point that you can actually hear some clipping and breakup going on as either the microphones or the amplifiers are pushed beyond their limits. Later on, songs downshift into that buildup mode, often spending several minutes circling around ideas before again going aural supernova with noise, dissonance, and sheer energy. That Boris took their name from a Melvins song should come as no surprise. This Japanese power trio can sling the sludge along with the best of them. Think of them as a kind of Sonic Youth on steroids. Turn this record up loud and not only will it annoy the neighbors, it just might rearrange their living room furniture!
When some of the heavier parts of Akuma No Uta kicked in, a big grin spread across my face. I'll admit that I felt a little like Barry from the movie High Fidelity as I looked around the room actually hoping to see one or two irritated looks on the shoppers' faces. No such luck. People appeared to be less stressed and more blissed out. Apparently, not even the aggressive art-squall of Boris could ruin the mood.
Maybe I was just trying to cultivate my inner Grinch. Or something.