Prolific Japanese artists Boris and Merzbow bid farewell to 2020 together | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Prolific Japanese artists Boris and Merzbow bid farewell to 2020 together


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I tried to tally up the total number of releases by noise wizard Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow, and polymorphous metal trio Boris before I started writing about their new joint album, but it proved to be a fool’s errand. These Japanese artists are among the most prolific musicians in modern history, and their combined catalogs include hundreds of titles. The brand-new 2R0I2P0 (a play on “RIP 2020,” a sentiment I think we can all get behind), is their eighth collaborative release since 2002. Merzbow and Boris are natural partners, as they both constantly evolve and push boundaries: Boris have seemingly mastered every heavy-music genre under the sun (most recently on the hardcore-driven No), and Merzbow’s harsh-noise recordings, including November’s Screaming Dove, have gotten more and more head-splittingly abrasive since he started in 1979. Unfortunately, when you’re pumping out that much material, odds are it won’t all be top-notch. For 2R0I2P0 Boris contributed an assortment of rerecorded older songs plus two new covers—“To the Beach” by Japanese alt-rock trio Coaltar of the Deepers and the 1991 Melvins track “Boris,” which inspired the group’s name—and Merzbow added electronics over the top. On the slower, sludgier tracks (always a Boris strength) the combination works perfectly, with heavy waves crashing together in hypnotic drones. But on most of the record, the collaborators feel disconnected from each other; at times Merzbow’s glitchy swaths of noise distract from the excellent Boris songs rather than complementing them. This may not be the best outing from either Boris or Merzbow, but they’re both so passionate and creative that anything they touch is worth at least a few spins.   v

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