As Boris continue to steer in and out of avant-rock territory, the 30-year-old Japanese band increasingly splinter genre ideas and expectations fans might foist upon them. The trio have been prolific during the pandemic, releasing nearly a dozen albums whose variety almost necessitates a disregard for boundaries: they include studio full-lengths, EPs, and live and archival recordings that explore the history of outsider rock music. The title track on November’s Reincarnation Rose EP navigates a dividing line between 90s stoner-rock aesthetics and Stooges-era hard rock and psych. W, the troupe’s first long-player on Sacred Bones, provides a foil to 2020’s punk-inflected NO (Get it? NOW) and steps into more serene territory. On “Icelina,” guitarist and vocalist Wata whispers atop melancholy synth lines that seem suited to Björk; “The Fallen” features a bit of dirgey profundity and purposefully disjointed shredding; and “Drowning by Numbers” splits the difference between the two, adding a dub-indebted bass line. Boris always have embraced a roiling set of influences and worked to create albums that function as a pastiche of whatever inspires their members at the moment. W isn’t as artfully quilted as 2003’s Akuma No Uta, whose cover is a Nick Drake reference and whose songs move from calm and contemplative to cacophonous. While the majority of W skews toward Boris’s more serene side, the album ends with “Jozan,” a four-minute exploration of noise and metal. It’s an acknowledgment of the band’s beginnings and a nod to old fans who’ve waded through the ensemble’s fathomless sonic permutations.
Boris’s W is available for pre-order on Bandcamp. The album drops 1/21.