The Boredoms are not only one of the current greatest live acts in music, they’re also at the zenith of a highly unlikely and eccentric artistic course. The band has moved from a spasmodic/nihilistic scatological noise act to, after a long sidewinding trajectory, its current incarnation as an ecstatic outer-space drum tribe, of which Super Roots 9 is the first official live recording.
The lone, forty-minute track on the EP, "Livwe," opens with an angelic choir that sings with such precision that the sound seems to originate not from the exercise of human organs but from a mellotron-type sampler. It induces a strong resonance with Popol Vuh’s Werner Herzog soundtracks, particularly the famous opening shot to Aguirre: Wrath of God, which follows a clan of Spanish conquistadors and their attendants down a mesmerizingly long, overgrown mountainside into the mysterious rain forest. Then multiple-drummer breakbeats explode and the choir erupts in tandem: We have full Gnostic lift-off, sending Aguirre hurtling through the stratosphere. The rest of the track is a furious, unrelenting interstellar rollercoaster in which ceaseless, pummeling tribal beats fuel dizzying dissonant choral explosions, akin to something like Hawkwind performing Scriabin.
It’s a sonic fury that is as jaw-dropping as it is difficult at times to withstand, such that one feels at times a bit like the astronauts in Danny Boyle’s last film, Sunshine, who stand unmediated before complete solar annihilation. That’s to say that it’s not clear that this is most effectively a piece to be listened to in your living room while making tea or something. Seen live, it stands to reason that it would be the sort of performance that would sear right through your sonic receptors and leave you craving silence for days just to convalesce. On record however, my attention went from thinking “Holy mother of God” to, about a fourth of the way through, “Really, forty minutes of this?”
At this point, I’m unsure if the Super Roots series even needs to be considered a series. Sure, each volume collects tracks that don’t quite fit the album format, but who would consider any Boredoms album conventional? So, think of the ninth edition of Super Roots as the latest opportunity for fans to get their headphone or bed-/living room groove on. This edition captures a 2004 live performance in Japan with a 24-piece choir and comes packaged in a mini-gatefold jacket package. In other words, it looks pretty and it’s hella noisy. Just how you’d like it.
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