Music » Music Stories

The Boredoms and Ken Ishii

Rebore 2 (Warner Japan)


One 50-minute amalgam of Eye screams, pounding thruster drums, eeps and oops, gulps and guffaws, dirge-like asides, revelatory whirlwind whispers and contained chaos, Rebore 2 is both an experiment and a leap of faith: The Boredoms, Japanese band, turn over a decade's worth of their master tapes to Ken Ishii, techno producer, and ask him to do with the music what he wants. Ahh, sweet freedom.

The Boredoms are Japanese freaks -- about a half-dozen of them, fronted by a man named Eye -- who, over the past decade, have transformed themselves from Dada minutemen intent on simultaneously destroying and reimagining the idea of song by filling each module of silence with bursts of seemingly random guitars, drums, basses and yelps and into focused mantra-kings intent on stretching one singular idea until it snaps. Ishii is one of the most respected techno producers in the world and one of the first from Japan to make an impact in the early '90s by releasing landmark recordings (as Utu and Flare) on the great R&S and Plus Eight labels. His music on these early records is beautiful and seamless, filled with beats and melody so engaging and complex that with each listen arrives a different theory on its intentions; at one point you think it's head music, at the next it's body music. The beauty lies in his ability to create both simultaneously.

On Rebore 2 (Rebore 1 was the product of a similar collaboration between U.N.K.L.E. and the Boredoms), Ishii tackles the music of the Boredoms the right way: by relying solely on their sounds instead of creating his own beats and textures and weaving the Boredoms into it. The result is a scrap-heap symphony, a continual mix of Bore bits pasted together. It rolls and skids, burns out and does doughnuts, all the while retaining a grand momentum that smells of burned rubber and gasoline. Snare rolls last for minutes at a time, bass drums pound until they're burrowed deep inside your skull and teensy-weensy eeps and squeaks give way to the glorious refrain of "Vision, Creation, Newsun!" which gives way to a rumble and an equally euphoric Dada shout-out of "Super roots, yeah yeah yeah!"

Rebore sounds more like the Boredoms than it does Ishii; techno devotees will be disappointed with the sound of Ishii here, because he doesn't sound all synthetic. But screw them, because, like all geeks only devoted to a specific piece of the larger puzzle, their eardrums are deaf to other kinds of beauty. On Rebore 2, Ishii concentrates on another kind of beauty, one that is the result of joy through chaos, the antithesis of the regimented joy through repetition, and though each has its merits, chaos reigns supreme here, just as it should.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.