W, the new album by Japanese band Boris, is like a work of modern art. Released through Sacred Bones Records, W is an avant-garde album that sounds like a painting colored by sound, evoking the quieter moments found on the band’s earlier albums such as Pink. Synthesizing these calm movements and quiet interludes, W creates a stirring and profound musical journey.
Boris connected with Sacred Bones Records through Uniform.
“We toured with Uniform for the 2019 U.S. tour,” says Wata. “They’d released music via Sacred Bones and introduced us. Uniform has great sound and personality, so we were naturally drawn to the label they released music through. Sacred Bones also has released music for Jim Jarmusch and music from movies, so we’ve related to them.”
W is reminiscent of film soundtracks from movies shown in modern art galleries. Filming for the music video of “Drowning By Numbers” took place at a showcasing for dance. The music video amplifies the modern art elements found on this album.
“It originally developed from a collaboration with Kei Miyata, a founding member of KARAS, which is a contemporary dance company,” says Wata of the music video. “For the showcase, we put together a 40-minute show with dancers along with unreleased sound sources.
“When making the music video for the album release, we made a video with Yukiko Doi who is one of the dancers. She’s a dancer whose body knows a wide range of dance languages from neoclassical ballet to contemporary dance. Her overwhelmingly beautiful dance led us to develop our ideas. After multiple meetings, we kneaded together a dance piece with her and the large hat, which is also symbolically used in the album artwork.”
There is a powerful connection between W and NO, a loud, heavy, and experimental record. While the albums sound different from one another, they are quite compatible with each other.
“The first impressions of NO and W may be that they have a completely different atmosphere and sound image,” says Wata. “The violent emotions of NO, the calm emotions of W, these conflicting emotions are ones we constantly have. Both feelings coexist and occur in the world at the same time. As we reached completion, I think the relationship between the two albums became more evident. If you connect the two album names, it becomes NOW. I think it’s work that represents the world we currently live in. The two became one piece of work through a natural path.”
“I feel that the process of making the albums has become ‘healing’ for us,” adds Wata.
On W, Wata is the vocalist. Her singing gives this album a whispery quality that compliments the subdued instrumentation by Takeshi and Atsuo. “For NO, Takeshi and Atsuo were the main vocalists from the beginning,” says Wata. “With W, we began album production with me as the main vocalist.”
Boris are immensely productive. Wata says, “Atsuo and Takeshi are very fast-paced, and whenever they think of something, they hop in the studio and record. That’s the benefit of self-recording. It’s comparable to coloring notes and sketches to complete an artwork in an atelier. There are many partially complete artworks in the atelier, and also many notes with ideas.”
She adds, “For me, I could be compared to someone who is layering colors on those partially made artwork. It may be more appropriate for us to be called painters rather than musicians. It’s not like we work for any company, so not only with music, but we also handle design and operate ourselves too. It’s a very DIY activity. The roles are split well among the team, so that would be why we can keep continuing our work too.”
Boris have been together since 1992. For Wata, Takeshi, and Atsuo, being in a band is quite literally their life.
“This is our life itself,” says Wata. “I can’t think of any other path. With COVID, we experienced many difficulties, but we’re extremely thankful we’ve been able to continue producing with our support from fans worldwide. I’m really glad we’ve had the chance to travel to various countries.”
Watch the video for “Beyond Good and Evil” here:
Photo courtesy of Boris and Yoshihiro Mori
Translated by Kasumi Billington