It’s like we’ve made the pilgrimage to the world through music. It’s as though music has become the prayer of our daily lives. It has become a state where the music has more purity. The category of music, trendiness [or] outdatedness, doesn’t matter at all—just that it’s a daily prayer to us. Like hope.-Takeshi
This history was written to give fans a clearer picture of the journey the band has taken. It is not a definitive source of information. Boris has many sides and many types of fans. Ultimately, the only true way to learn about their journey is to experience their music for yourself.
1992-1995 – Early Days
Video: A recording of Boris performing with Nagata as their drummer in 1995.
Boris began in 1992 in Tokyo, Japan. There were originally four members: vocalist Atsuo from Gifu, bassist Takeshi from Shiso, guitarist Wata from Hiroshima, and drummer Nagata. They had each played in different bands until meeting at Tokyo University as art students, naming their group after the 1991 Melvins song “Boris.”
The band would record demo material after their formation, with their first and second demos being completed in 1993, and their third demo completed in 1994. Several formerly unknown tracks from this period, “Warm Worm” (1992), “C-Kool” (1993), and “En attendant Godot” (1993) would later surface in 2018 on Secrets, a collection of rare material. The first recording the band would publicly release would be the track “Water Porch,” released on a 1994 compilation CD titled Take Care of Scabbard Fish. A VHS tape titled e.pray was produced by the band around this time, but it is unclear if e.pray was ever available to the public. In 1995, Boris would release a studio version of “Mosquito” on another compilation CD, Eat the Chaos. Nagata would leave the band some time in 1996, leaving Atsuo to assume the roles of both drummer and vocalist.
1996-1999 – Absolutego and Performing as a Trio
Following the departure of Nagata, Boris would record their first “single,” the hour-long Absolutego, a feedback-laden sludgy grind influenced heavily by Earth, Melvins, and the blistering volume of hardcore music. Absolutego was recorded in July of 1996, a month after recording a split EP with the punk group Barebones. The song has been performed live throughout the band’s career, including a special performance of the song held at the 2018 Roadburn Festival with Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))).
Absolutego was released independently as a CD on the label FangsAnalSatan in 1996 and would be reissued by Southern Lord as Absolutego+ (Special Low Frequency Version), with the original track slowed down and remastered to be slower, louder, and lower in fidelity. This version also includes the track “Dronevil 2,” recorded in 1997 and rereleased on vinyl though Southern Lord in 2010.
Also in 1996, the track “Vacuuum” appeared on the first-ever Inoxia Records release From Koenji To Eternity.
In 1997, Boris released a split 7” EP with the group Tomsk-7 on the American hardcore punk label Bovine Records, the first official release of Boris material outside of Japan. In the same year they would also contribute “調弦” to the now highly rare double-cassette compilation A Tribute to Evangelion, a tribute to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
On August 31st, 1997, Boris was invited to perform in a collaborative concert with Keiji Haino, the recording of which would be edited and released on Inoxia Records in 1998 as Black: Implication Flooding.
What is FangsAnalSatan?
FangsAnalSatan, also stylized as Fangs Anal Satan or FAS, is an imprint established by the members of Boris in 1992. Named after the Melvins song “Anal Satan,” FangsAnalSatan published the first Boris single Absolutego and hosted a series of live concert showcases throughout the early years of their career. There appear to have been twenty-three “volumes” of these showcases between 1995 and 1998, with their collaborative performance with Keiji Haino in 1997 being the seventeenth.
On several releases from Boris and other acts, FangsAnalSatan is credited for mixing, recording, design, and other technical aspects. In this way, FAS often functions as a moniker for Atsuo.
Amplifier Worship was Boris’s first full album, recorded and mixed in August and September of 1998 and released as a CD on the Japanese record label Mangrove. Amplifier Worship saw Takeshi performing lead vocals for the first time, with each track on the record featuring his lead vocals with the exception of “Huge.”
Southern Lord reissued Amplifier Worship as a CD in March of 2003, featuring new artwork by Stephen O’Malley. The initial run of this CD included a gummy worm placed in the spine. Southern Lord also reissued Amplifier Worship on vinyl in 2010, limited to two thousand copies on black vinyl and one thousand copies on green vinyl.
A few months after the initial release of Amplifier Worship, Inoxia Records released More Echoes, Touching Air Landscape, a split CD with the group Choukoku No Niwa. It was reissued with different packaging in 2006.
Video: Boris performing “Huge,” taken from the 2003 DVD見殺し塔からずっと: Live at Shimokitazawa Shelter.
Rough sketches of the design for Amplifier Worship‘s CD release on Mangrove. Source
2000—2005 – A Landmark Era: Flood through Pink
By the year 2000, Boris had released the hour-long Absolutego, their first studio album Amplifier Worship, a collaborative live album with Keiji Haino, three split releases, and three demo tapes. They had appeared on several compilation albums and had even played shows outside of Japan by to this point.
After contributing a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Me and The Devil Blues” to the P-Vine Records tribute release Up Jumped The Devil in February of 2000, Boris would enter the studio to record their second studio album, Flood.
Flood was recorded as a single song spanning over seventy minutes and divided into four sections on its CD release. This was the first studio album from Boris to have guitar parts played by Takeshi, who had primarily played bass for the majority of Boris’s career up to the release of Flood and had only begun contributing lead vocals to tracks in 1998 with Amplifier Worship.
Arrangements of Flood have been performed during numerous Boris tours. Boris Performing “Flood” was recorded at their 2012 Tokyo performance at Daikanyama Unit and was distributed during their 2013 US “Residency” tour, where they played the song during each set.
Video: Boris performing a condensed version of Flood live at Koenji 20000V, May 3, 2001. This performance appears on the Heavy Metal Me DVD as bonus material and on the CD Archive Volume Three: Two Long Songs (later re-released on Archive I).
In the summer of 2001, Boris would record Heavy Rocks (commonly referred to as “Heavy Rocks 2002” or “Orange Heavy Rocks”), released in April of 2002. Heavy Rocks is the only work by Boris released on Quattro/UK Discs (a subsidiary of UK Project) and has only ever been issued as a CD. The album was intended to be released at the same time as Flood, but its release was delayed because both albums were being released by different labels.
Heavy Rocks was the first Boris album to incorporate guest performers, featuring synthesizer contributions on “Dyna-Soar” from Masonna (Maso Yamazaki), noise contributions on “Death Valley” from Merzbow (Masami Akita), and lead guitar on “孤映” from Eddie Legend.
“Heavy Friends” features vocals from Lori Steinberg of the band Acid King, and “鐘 -The Bell Tower of a Sign-” features vocals from Komi, the vocalist of the band Abnormals.
In December of 2002, Inoxia Records would issue a numbered 7″ with alternate takes of the Heavy Rocks songs “1970” and “ワレルライド.” “Dronevil,” a song recorded during the sessions for Heavy Rocks, was released by Mangrove Records on the compilation CD Mangrove 2002.
In the same month as the release of Heavy Rocks, Boris would also release Megatone, their first collaborative studio album with Merzbow, on Inoxia Records.
The cover for Heavy Rocks references the famous logo for Orange Amplifiers. Boris has used Orange amps since their beginning and has held a long-standing sponsorship from the company.
Boris with Merzbow
Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow, would become a frequent live and in-studio collaborator of Boris, releasing Megatone, 04092001, and Sun Baked Snow Cave between 2002 and 2005. In 2001, the tracks “Walrus” (an interpretation of the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus”) and “Groon” were recorded; they were later released together on a 12” for Hydra Head Records in 2007.
A 2004 studio album with Merzbow would be recorded and later released as Klatter in 2011. The Heavy Rocks track “Death Valley” featured contributions from Akita and Boris would produce the twenty-minute long “Froggie Bee-Baa” in 2003 for Merzbow’s “Frog” Remixed and Revisited. Photo credit.
Akuma No Uta
In April of 2003, Boris would release a split 7″ with The Dudley Corporation on the label Scientific Laboratories, featuring a version of “Ibitsu,” mastered by Eiji Hashizume and recorded at Sound Square. Another recording of “Ibitsu” would appear again a few months later on Boris’s fourth studio album, Akuma No Uta (あくまのうた). Recorded in one take on analog tape, Akuma No Uta was released on DIWPHALANX as a CD and LP, featuring different covers. The Japanese LP release (also used on the 2005 Southern Lord releases and 2019 Third Man Records reissues) was designed as a homage to Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter.
The Many Iterations of “Introduction”
Akuma No Uta’s first track, “Introduction” (“イントロ” on the Japanese CD and LP), has three versions that have been released. The version on the Japanese CD is two minutes and thirty-five seconds long, featuring an air raid siren towards the end. On the Japanese LP and US CD releases, an alternate recording of the track is used, with a length of nine minutes and forty-four seconds. On Variations, the two minute and twenty-one second version of “Introduction” is edited from the longer version to resemble the shorter version from the Japanese CD release. The longer Japan LP/US CD versions and Variations edit do not contain the air raid siren sound effect that the Japanese CD version has.
Boris at Last -Feedbacker-
Later in 2003, Boris would release their fifth album, Boris at Last -Feedbacker-, and their first DVD 見殺し塔からずっと (Live at the Shimokitazawa Shelter Black Summer Tour 2003) on the same day, December 25th. Boris at Last -Feedbacker-, often referred to simply as Feedbacker would continue Boris’s tradition of long songs, being a forty-three-minute song divided into five sections.
Feedbacker was initially released in Japan on December 25, 2003 as a CD and limited edition LP through DIWPHALANX Records. The Belgian label Conspiracy Records would release a CD reissue in 2005 along with a picture disc version limited to 333 copies. Conspiracy Records later released a standard LP reissue in 2009 with two hundred copies on red vinyl. Third Man records rereleased Feedbacker on vinyl alongside a limited CD run of two thousand copies, giving the same treatment to Akuma No Uta.
Feedbacker has been played at many shows in a slightly condensed form, a live arrangement appears on Heavy Metal Me; and a live recording of Feedbacker saw an official DVD release as Bootleg -Feedbacker-. A performance of the song with Merzbow was included on Rock Dream in 2007.
Video: Boris performing Feedbacker, recorded on November 1, 2003 at Shinjuku Liquid Room. This performance appears on the Heavy Metal Me DVD.
Video: Wata performing a small section of Feedbacker for a special in-store performance at Criminal Records in Atlanta, GA, US.
The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked
The first release in Boris’s trilogy series The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked would be recorded in 2004 and released as a limited run of orange vinyl on the Finland-based label Kult of Nihilow in August of that year. This series consisted of experimental drone and ambient compositions without vocals and often without drums.
The second volume of The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked would be released in 2006 on Conspiracy Records, which had released the international CD and LP releases of Boris at Last -Feedbacker-.
Conspiracy Records released the third volume a year later in 2007, which would be the final release in the series for six years until the release of The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked – Chronicle, containing the entire original trilogy on CD for the first time as well as 目をそらした瞬間 Extra -The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked Extra-. The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked Extra was released on vinyl in 2014 on Taiga Records and packaged with a specially designed sleeve to hold the entire series of LPs.
Unlike the previous entries in the series, several tracks on The Thing Which Solomon Overlooked Extra contained vocals, including guest vocals from Seiichiro Morikawa on “Howl Part 1” and “Howl Part 2” and additional vocals on “Howl Part 1” credited to “Nene & Nana.” The guitarist Michio Kurihara contributed to both parts of “Howl.”
2005 would be a defining year for Boris, seeing the release of several albums, DVDs, and other projects, many of which had been recorded in part during the prior years. The first release in 2005 would be Boris’s first live recording with Merzbow, 0402001, a low-fidelity recording of a 2001 concert released on Inoxia Records as a limited 12″.
Less than three weeks later, Boris released Dronevil, their sixth studio album. Dronevil was presented as two 12″s intended to be played simultaneously on two different stereo systems. Dronevil -Final- was released as a 2xCD on Inoxia Records in 2006, featuring two new tracks.
In April of 2005, Boris released the A Bao A Qu 7″, a limited-edition picture disc released through SuperFi Records. This release features a ten-minute rendition of the song presented in two parts, later appearances of the song on other releases are shorter.
Mabuta No Ura
マブタノウラ Sound Track from Film “Mabuta No Ura” (simply referred to as Mabuta No Ura) was released on June 29, 2005 as a CD through the label Catune. Despite being labelled as a film soundtrack, Mabuta No Ura is actually an imaginary film. The release serves as the first concept album to be released by Boris. Inoxia Records would publish a limited vinyl release sharing the same track list as the Catune CD, while the Brazilian label Essence would publish a limited CD release sharing the same cover as the Inoxia Records LP, but with an alternate track listing and differences in material (“Theme,” for example, is omitted from the Essence Version, while the Essence version adds the track “Continues”). The Essence CD release was also accompanied by a boxset version, limited to 199 copies. This boxset included a hand-painted wooden box, additional art prints, and dried flowers. The Essence and Inoxia Records versions of Mabuta No Ura feature a short story printed on the inserts.
In October of 2005, Boris released both Sun Baked Snow Cave, their second studio album with Merzbow, and all three volumes of the Archive series, presented by Scott Slimm for the now defunct aRCHIVE label, compiling live material recorded between 1996 and 2001. All three volumes of the Archive series were remastered and rereleased in 2014 by Daymare Recordings as Archive I.
Sun Baked Snow Cave was released on Hydra Head Records’ Double H Noise Industries division as a CD with artwork from Sunn O))) member Stephen O’Malley, later being reissued on vinyl in 2014. It is presented as a single track with distinct sections without division.
The following month of November, Boris released their seminal album Pink in Japan as a CD and double LP on DIWPHALANX Records, with a CD and double LP release on Southern Lord following in May of 2006. Pink was one of the first Boris records to gain significant international attention, garnering favorable reviews in many music publications. While most of the songs recorded for Pink were likely written around the time of the recording sessions, the song “Blackout” had been performed as early as 1995 under the name “Bastard.”
Several differences exist between the different releases of Pink— the original DIWPHALANX CD has a ten-minute version of “Just Abandoned Myself,” while an eighteen-minute version appears on the DIWPHALANX 2xLP and all Southern Lord releases. The vinyl releases of Pink all contain an alternate track arrangement from the CD versions in addition to full-length versions of “Farewell”, “Pseudo-Bread”, and “My Machine.”
In 2016, a deluxe edition of Pink was released internationally on Sargent House as 2xCD and 3xLP sets and domestically as a 2xCD on Daymare Recordings. It features newly edited and arranged tracks recorded during the same period as Pink, labelled “Forbidden Songs.”
In the year 2005, Boris released the DVDs Bootleg -Feedbacker- and Heavy Metal Me through DIWPHALANX in addition to appearing on the DIWPHALANX Japanese heavy rock showcase DVD Wizard’s Convention.
Bootleg -Feedbacker- contains a thirty-four-minute-long iteration of Feedbacker, performed live at Skylight, New York, on October 16, 2004. Wizard’s Convention features six songs taken from Heavy Rocks and Akuma No Uta, recorded live at Kichijoji WARP on May 24, 2003.
Heavy Metal Me contains a short film with subtitles for Japanese and English, music videos for “A Bao A Qu” and “The Evil One Which Sobs,” and live performances of Feedbacker and Flood.
2006—2008 – Altar through Smile
Altar with Sunn O)))
Boris had been involved with Southern Lord in reissuing several releases and they had developed a long term friendship with Sunn O))) member Stephen O’Malley by the time their Sunn O))) collaboration, Altar, was recorded and released in 2006.
Photo: Boris and Sunn O))) performing Altar at All Tomorrow’s Parties, NY, in 2010. Photo credit.
Altar featured a number of guest artists, including Jesse Sykes, Tos Nieuwenhuizen, Bill Herzog, Rex Ritter, and others. It was initially released on Southern Lord as a CD in the US and internationally and as a CD with the bonus track “The Sinking Belle (Black Sheep)” in Japan.
Several versions would be released later, including a limited edition 3xLP set from Daymare Recordings containing the twenty-eight minute long prelude track “Her Lips Were Wet with Venom -satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas-,” featuring Kim Thayil of Soundgarden. This 3xLP release is the only version containing “The Sinking Belle (White Sheep).”
“Her Lips Were Wet with Venom” appears on limited edition CD releases from Southern Lord and Inoxia Records.
“When we accosted Atsuo & Wata after their concert in mid 90s at Neumo’s in Seattle (Greg and I had come to see Joe Preston’s solo project THRONES and had our very stoned minds absolutely shattered by the support act, BORIS, who we had no idea existed in this dimension) Atsuo’s instantly generous and friendly attitude belied the savage sound they had just processed through and commenced. We asked if they liked SLEEP. Atsuo pointed to Wata and said ‘She likes SLEEP.’ We were bonded by blood at that moment.”
Stephen O’Malley commenting on Sunn O)))’s relationship with Boris in a 2017 Sargent House blog post
Source (Archive here)
Vein was recorded in 2004, in the same timeframe as Pink, Mabuta No Ura, and Dronevil. Two versions of the record were released on Important Records on November 10, 2006 containing entirely different material. 1100 copies of the “hardcore version” were sold in North America and four hundred copies of the “drone version” or “noise version” were distributed in Europe. The North American “hardcore version” contains a mix of experimental drone and hardcore punk tracks laced with noise, while the European “drone version” contain two 16-minute long instrumental drone/noise tracks with hardcore punk elements.
Both versions of the record have identical packaging, consisting of sheets of Mylar with printed designs inside of a large plastic sleeve. The records, pressed on clear vinyl, have designs directly screened onto them around the perimeter of the playable area. Because the packaging for both releases of Vein are identical, the only way to differentiate between versions is to examine the grooves of the records themselves.
A special version of Vein was released through Daymare Recordings on April 10, 2013. It contains material from both the North American and European releases of Vein. The material is contained on two Minimax CDs with designs printed along their perimeter, both contained in a clear jewel case with printed transparent inserts. The first disc contains a selection of heavily altered songs from the original North American version of Vein in addition to two new tracks. The second disc contains both sides of the original European release of Vein mixed together. This special release of Vein omits a sizeable amount of material from the original releases of Vein due to time constraints imposed by the Minimax CD format.
An alternate mix of track A7 from the North American “hardcore” release of Vein appeared on the 2008 album Smile, where it is spliced into the song “Untitled” on all versions of Smile except for the Southern Lord 2xLP release, which makes the song a separate track simply titled “Vein.” Another edit of this song appears as track 11 of the 2013 release of Vein with a sample of the reversed guitar from “Untitled.”
Working with Michio Kurihara
ITV: “How did you first come into contact with Michio Kurihara? What made you want to collaborate with him, and what were you going for musically with Rainbow?”
Atsuo: “We both use a studio called Peace Music. When YBO2 reformed in 2000, he played guitar in that band, and we performed together. To put it simply, we are huge fans of his work. As a producer, I like to hear his guitar. I mean his crazy guitar. This work came out as an even more amazing album than we expected. It was a really good experience for Boris.”
Interview source: Austin Chronicle
Photo: Michio Kurihara playing with Boris in 2010 (Courtesy of Alex Gillies)
Boris has had a longstanding relationship with guitarist Michio Kurihara, who had performed with Japanese psychedelic and underground acts such as The Stars, White Heaven, YBO² and Ghost. He has performed with Boris on several tours and has appeared on a multitude of their records.
The records Rainbow and Cloud Chamber were both recorded in 2006 at Peace Music. Rainbow was initially released as a CD in Japan through Pedal Records on December 23, 2006, featuring liner notes in Portuguese. Inoxia Records released an LP version of the Pedal Records CD in June of 2007 alongside a deluxe 2xLP boxset on clear vinyl. The boxset version of Rainbow features two exclusive experimental tracks on the second LP, an alternate version of the album’s title track with a different solo, a DVD containing the title track’s music video, and a fifty page book containing photos.
The US CD release of Rainbow was handled by Drag City, with English liner notes and song titles. The Drag City CD contains the same material as the Pedal Records CD, but with the song “No Sleep Till I Become Hollow” replacing “にじむ残像 -… e, eu quero-” as the final track.
Cloud Chamber was released in Japan by Pedal Records on December 23 as a limited-edition CD, featuring a unique cover made of translucent sheets of folder paper, sealed with a holographic Pedal Records sticker. The album consists of one thirty-six-minute long instrumental composition divided into two parts.
Michio Kurihara and Boris would perform on the Ai Aso track “ランド” for the 2007 album カモミールのプール (Chamomile Pool), and Michio Kurihara would play alongside Wata for Ai Aso’s live DVD The Chamomile Pool Show DVD, recorded on September 8, 2007. On August 24, 2007, Ai Aso and Wata would release the split 7″ She’s So Heavy on Inoxia Records, with Michio Kurihara performing on Wata’s cover of the Canis Lupus song “Angel.”
In 2018, Pedal Records released the live recording 不透明度 -You Laughed Like a Water Mark- on LP, containing part of the Rainbow release party performance held on February 4, 2007 at Shimokitazawa Shelter. Two of the songs on this recording, “夕暮れのジャイロ -Time to Go-” and “風の12方位 -The Wind’s Twelve Quarters-” are taken from Kurihara’s 2005 solo album Sunset Notes.
Live Recordings: Rock Dream, Long Hair and Tights and Damaged
In 2007, Boris released live recordings of three performances from their 2006 tours in different formats.
The Damaged split EP with Stupid Babies Go Mad was released by DIWPHALANX Records as a 10″ red vinyl record with white splattering, limited to 1500 copies. Packaged with the Damaged EP is a DVD, containing footage of the band’s performance at Northsix, New York, on September 11, 2006. The EP is a reference to Black Flag’s seminal record Damaged, with the Boris track titled “Damaged 3” and the Stupid Babies Go Mad track titled “Damaged 4.” “Damaged 3” is a cover of the Stupid Babies Go Mad song “Double Vision,” while “Damaged 4” contains a cover of Boris’s song “Ibitsu.”
Rock Dream is a recording of collaborative performance with Merzbow held at EARTHDOM, Tokyo, on November 18, 2006. It was first released as a 2xCD by DIWPHALANX Records and Daymare Recordings in Japan on October 26, 2007 and by Southern Lord in the United States and Europe on November 20, 2007. The Southern Lord version has alternate packaging and was limited to five thousand copies on CD. Southern Lord also released Rock Dream as a limited-edition 3xLP set in April, 2008, with “Dyna-saur” appearing as an exclusive bonus track.
Long Hair and Tights was released on June 22, 2007 by Daymare Records, a split 2xLP release between Boris and Doomriders limited to five hundred copies on red vinyl and five hundred copies on yellow vinyl. The Boris songs on sides B and D were recorded live at Slim’s, San Francisco, on October 19, 2006. Copies purchased through Inoxia Records, Disk Union, or the Boris merch table included an exclusive “Boris Vs. Doomriders” stencil.
The Mystery of Evil Stack
The name “Evil Stack” appears several times in the Boris chronology; a 2003 T-shirt bears the phrase on its back side below a drawing of a stack of amplifier cabinets. The first volume contained within Archive II is a live recording of a performance held in Tokyo on May 15, 2003 and is titled “Evil Stack Live.” It is possible that the shirt design was created for the 2003 performance, as the Black Summer tour held months later had its own unique T-shirt design.
The Damaged DVD and Rock Dream both contain live recordings of songs titled “Evil Stack,” while Präparat contains a song titled “Evil Stack 3.”
Video: The official music video for “Statement,” which uses the international version of the song.
Boris recorded Smile in 2007 at Peace Music, choosing to create two different versions of the record for its Japanese release through DIWPHALANX Records and international release through Southern Lord. Both versions of Smile feature guest guitar from Michio Kurihara and Stephen O’Malley. It is the first Boris record to feature a cover song with their rendition of Pyg’s 1971 single “花・太陽・雨” (“Flower Sun Rain”). Ai Aso is credited for writing the song “You Were Holding An Umbrella.”
The Japanese version of Smile was released as a CD with special foam packaging on March 3, 2008. A limited-edition 2xLP version was later released on April 11, 2008. Packaging for these releases was designed by Fangsanalsatan.
The Japanese version of the record was mixed by You Ishihara, who in a 2014 interview said about Smile “The band wanted to make the international version and Japanese version sound different, so the Japanese version was mixed differently. In other words, it was a remix. What we did was remix the international version before it was even finished.”
Southern Lord released the international version of Smile as a CD on April 29, 2008. A limited-edition version of the album was also sold, featuring a DVD with music videos for “Statement,” “My Neighbor Satan,” and “Pink.” Southern Lord released the 2xLP international version on December 8, 2008. Packaging for these versions was designed by Stephen O’Malley. The Southern Lord release of Smile was mixed by Fangsanalsatan and Souichiro Nakamura, with starkly different arrangement for some songs and a different track order.
The Southern Lord 2xLP has a different track order from all other versions of the album and has several differences from the Southern Lord CD version. It features “Vein” (an excerpt from the American release of Vein) as its own track, while on all other versions of Smile, it is spliced into the beginning of “Untitled.” Similarly, it presents “After Me” as its own track, where other versions of Smile have it appended to “Laser Beam.” The version of “Untitled” on this release does not fade out like it does on the Southern Lord CD and does not contain any part of Vein. The version of “My Neighbor Satan” used on this release features different solos from the CD version.
“The record itself was born as an idea two years ago around the time we were touring “Pink” and we were becoming disenchanted with the whole process and found ourselves obsessed with the idea of the fake. Particularly fake pop music and how that can in itself be hyper real. “Smile” is our attempt to reflect the idea of the fake. It might sound nothing like those pop records but it is our reflection of them.”
Atsuo commenting on the inspiration for Smile in a 2008 interview
Source (Archive here)
A limited-edition 12″ containing remixes of “メッセージ” (“Statement”) and the song “Floor Shaker” was released by DIWPHALANX Records on the same day as the initial Japanese CD release of Smile. “Floor Shaker” was recorded during the sessions for Smile, with a shortened version appearing on the B side of the Southern Lord “Statement” 7″. A longer edit of the song appears on Variations, but the original uncut version can only be found on the “Floor Shaker” promo CD, originally available with select purchases from Inoxia Records.
Smile -Live at Wolf Creek- was released as a 2xCD set through Daymare Recordings on November 21, 2008. It is a recording of a May 2008 performance at Wolf Creek, CA and is packaged similarly to the Japanese Smile CD. Live at Wolf Creek features Michio Kurihara, who toured with the band at this point as an additional guitarist.
Smile Live in Prague was released in 2009 as a 2xLP set on clear vinyl, limited to 425 copies. It is an unofficial bootleg recording of Boris’s May 9, 2008 performance in Prague, Czech Republic. It is reported that distribution of this release was officially approved by Boris, but public statements verifying this information do not seem to exist.
In September 2009, Scion A/V Remix Project: Boris was released by Scion Audio/Visual, a former label owned by Toyota Motor Corporation to promote their Scion Automotive brand. It features remixes of “Buzz In” by Todd Edwards, Mixhell, Optimo, and Nosaj Thing. The CD version of the EP features the original version of “Buzz In” from the Southern Lord version of Smile, while digital versions of the EP omit the track.
The “Floor Shaker” Incident
While the versions of the song “Floor Shaker” have appeared numerous times in the Boris discography, few fans are likely aware of the true meaning of its lyrics.
In a 2008 Exclaim! article (archive), it was revealed that the song references Boris fan Josh Baish, who had a piece of his ear bitten off and suffered a broken rib after being assaulted by other attendees in the mosh pit of a Boris performance held on October 18, 2007 in Marfa, Texas. While it is reported that the missing ear part was found by Boris after the concert, it could not be reattached and resides in a jar at Baish’s venue Rubber Gloves.
2009—2012 – Heavy Rock Hits and a Trilogy
By 2009, Boris had released more than twenty full-length studio recordings, several live albums, a multitude of singles, numerous EPs, and three DVDs. They had embarked on countless tours across Japan and internationally, playing with acts such as Sunn O))), ISIS, and Nine Inch Nails.
Their high productivity would continue through this period, where they would go as far as to release three full-length studio albums in the span of nine days.
Atsuo: “Originally we had completed one studio album in 2009. Some songs were scattered on several singles, split EPs, and Attention Please and Heavy Rocks. After a long process that went on for years those songs were united as one album called New Album.”
Video: A 2009 interview with Atsuo, translated to English.
Boris in Film
On May 1, 2009, The Limits of Control, a film directed by Jim Jarmusch, was released in North America. It marks the first appearance of Boris’s music in film. The movie soundtrack, released on May 5, 2009, features six previously released song from Boris, including edited versions of “Feedbacker,” “Untitled,” and “N.L.T.”
Boris’s music would feature a year later in another film, 告白 (Confessions), directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. Confessions was released in Japan on June 5, 2010 and had a significantly larger theatrical gross compared to The Limits of Control. The film soundtrack, released on May 26, 2010, featured six Boris songs, including the then-unreleased “断片-Bit-.”
2009: Chapter Ahead Being Fake, Golden Dance Classics, and Heavy Rock Hits
On August 19, 2009, two split releases, Chapter Ahead Being Fake and Golden Dance Classics, were released in Japan.
Chapter Ahead Being Fake, a split with Torche, features the song “Luna,” which would appear in an edited form on the Adult Swim compilation Metal Swim and also on the 2011 album New Album with different arrangement. Chapter Ahead Being Fake was initially released as a CD through Daymare Recordings and would later be released in the US as a 10″ through Hydra Head Records on July 13, 2010. The design for the Daymare CD release strongly resembles that of a typical Japanese DVD release, complete with stills from a nonexistent film involving members of Boris and Torche.
Golden Dance Classics, a split with 9dw, was released through Catune on CD and 12″ vinyl. It features the songs “Tokyo Wonder Land” and “Akirame Flower,” both featuring the use of drum machines. An alternate version of “Tokyo Wonder Land” would later appear on the record Attention Please.
Japanese Heavy Rock Hits was released by Southern Lord as a series of four 7″ singles between September 14 and November 20, 2009. The fourth single from the series contains a cover of the Earth and Fire song “Seasons” featuring Michio Kurihara and was limited to 500 copies on purple single-sided vinyl, only available to those who ordered a bundle of the entire series through Southern Lord. A different recording of the song “Hey Everyone” from the first volume of the series was used for the soundtrack of the 2015 original net animation Ninja Slayer From Animation.
2010: Variations / Live in Japan and BXI
Variations was released in Japan on June 02, 2010 through Daymare Recordings both as a standalone CD and as Variations + Live in Japan, a CD+DVD set. Variations is a compilation intended to showcase the “heavy rock” aspects of Boris’s music, compiling previously released music with five new studio recordings of previously released songs featuring Michio Kurihara. Several tracks from the Southern Lord version of Smile appear on Variations, as well as an edit of “Floor Shaker,” which was previously only available through the “Statement” 7″ single and the rare “Floor Shaker” promo CD. Variations is currently the only to way listen to the full version of “Farewell” aside from the Pink 2xLP releases.
The Live in Japan DVD features footage from Boris’s December 14, 2008 performance at Daikanyama Unit, the final stop for their world tour for Smile. It also features bonus live performances of “Tokyo Wonder Land,” “A Bao A Qu,” and “Farewell.” The DVD was later made available through Southern Lord in December 2010 with a full-color photo booklet and design by Stephen O’Malley.
BXI formed as a collaboration between Boris and English songwriter Ian Astbury, best known for performing lead vocals for The Cult. Together they recorded an EP in Tokyo, BXI: Boris and Ian Astbury, containing three original compositions and a cover of the Cult song “Rain.” Michio Kurihara recorded guitar for “Rain” and “Magickal Child,” while Ian Astbury performs vocals on all songs aside from “Rain,” which features vocals from Wata.
The EP was released as a CD and 12″ LP through Southern Lord in the US on August 17, 2010 and was released in Japan as a CD the following day through Daymare Recordings.
Heavy Rocks (2011) and Attention Please
Heavy Rocks and Attention Please were both released through Sargent House on May 24, 2011 on CD and vinyl. Daymare Recordings released both records the following day in Japan on CD. Both records would mark the beginning of their partnership with Sargent House, which would last until 2019. Heavy Rocks and Attention Please were born from the 2009 studio sessions when Japanese Heavy Rock Hits was recorded. Both albums were originally set for an April 26, 2011 release date, which was pushed back in March 2011 due to unforeseen circumstances.
“Boris has earned its rabid cult following for their ability to expertly harness music as power. Be it psychedelic metal, colossal drone, blistering punk or distortion-ravaged shoegaze, a Boris song is an exploration of sound as physical mass. The Japanese trio’s classic 2002 album, Heavy Rocks is a landmark of their mastery. So, it’s fitting that the group’s new album sharing the same title and very similar artwork to that disc, this year’s Heavy Rocks seeks to redefine “heavy” music in a culmination of the band’s tireless efforts over the past two decades. Heavy Rocks (2011) is beyond heavy, it firmly establishes Boris as the pillar of innovation and integrity in guitar-based music.”
Excerpt from a 2011 press release for Heavy Rocks
Heavy Rocks (often referred to as “Heavy Rocks 2011,” “HR2011,” or “Purple Heavy Rocks” to avoid confusion) recalls the title and packaging design of the 2002 Heavy Rocks, but is otherwise unrelated, featuring a different musical style.
Like the original Heavy Rocks, Heavy Rocks 2011 features several guest musicians, including Ian Astbury, Keisuke Suzuki (of Flower Companyz), Kensuke Saito (9dw), Yoshiko Kawakita (of D-Day), Faith Coloccia, and Aaron Turner. Michio Kurihara also performs guitar on “Leak,” “Missing Pieces,” and “Window Shopping.”
The 2xLP version of Heavy Rocks 2011 features extended versions of “Missing Pieces” and “Czechoslovakia,” with the extended version of “Czechoslovakia” appearing on Boris’s split 7″ with Saade, featuring vocals from Saade’s Tomáš Zakopal. The originally announced track listing for Heavy Rocks 2011 contained the song “8” in the place of “Leak,” but this was later changed for unspecified reasons. Both Heavy Rocks 2011 and Attention Please contain different arrangements of the song “Aileron.”
Attention Please is the first Boris album to feature lead vocals from Wata, who sings on every track but the instrumental “Aileron.” Attention Please is notably more atmospheric and experimental than Heavy Rocks 2011, containing several slower paced songs with spacey guitar and reverb.
Attention Please features guitar from Michio Kurihara on its title track and acoustic guitar from Eiji Hashizume on “Aileron.” Shinobu Narita is credited for “sound effects” on “You.”
Contrary to what one might believe, the woman featured on the cover of Attention Please is not Wata, but someone entirely different. The LP version of Attention Please was packaged with one of three randomly selected posters. The originally announced track listing contained “16:47:52” in the place of “You.”
New Album was released in Japan on March 16, 2011 as a CD through Tearbridge Records and as a limited-edition 2xLP through Daymare Recordings. Sargent House released New Album internationally on November 25, 2011 as a CD and 2xLP. New Album sounds vastly different from other Boris albums of the time, pulling influence from Japanese pop music and heavily incorporating the use of synthesizers and electronics.
New Album was the first Boris record to be produced by Shinobu Narita. With the exception of the Japanese version of Smile, it is the first album to not be self-produced by the band. In a 2012 interview, Atsuo stated, “New Album is the record that our sound producer Shinobu Narita rearranged and made postproduction to songs and data files from Attention Please and Heavy Rocks. When we found new lives for those songs, we wrote more to imagine how they would be after his process.”
There are numerous differences between different versions of New Album. The most obvious differences are that the Daymare 2xLP and Tearbridge CD both contain the same songs, but several tracks on the Daymare 2xLP are alternate edits and the track order is different. It should be noted that the Sargent House CD and 2xLP contain identical material.
“Black Original” does not appear on the Sargent House version of the album and is replaced with a new version of the song “Luna.” The Sargent House release is more similar to the Daymare 2xLP than the Tearbridge CD in terms of song editing and track order, but the key distinction is that the Daymare vinyl edit of “Party Boy” is not used in favor of the Tearbridge CD version.
Remix 12″s for the New Album version of “Black Original” and the song “Looprider” were released by Catune in August 2011 and February 2012, respectively.
2012: Asobi Seksu x Boris and Cosmos
For the 2012 Record Store Day on November 23, Polyvinyl Records and Sargent House released Asobi x Boris, a split 7″ featuring Asobi Seksu’s cover of “Farewell” and Boris’s cover of the Asobi Seksu song “New Years” produced by Shinobu Narita and titled “Neu Years.” The digital version of the single features four bonus tracks: two previously released tracks from Asobi Seksu in addition to “Spoon” and “Flare” from New Album.
On December 10, 2012, Invada Records released a Boris split 12″ with Joe Volk, featuring the three-part Cosmos. Cosmos was later released digitally as a standalone release. The packaging for the 12″ features illustrations by xhxix, who had done the artwork for New Album.
On March 14, 2013, Daymare Records released Präparat exclusively on 180 gram vinyl, with Atsuo stating in a 2013 interview that “I’m pretty sick of thinking about digital distribution, web streaming, or possible variants of physical format these days. It seemed to be cool to focus only on vinyl sometimes.” The record was repressed in 2014 for the Japanese Record Store Day on April 28. The repressed version includes a light blue label rather than a bright green label.
Unlike previous mainline studio albums, Präparat is largely instrumental. Shinobu Narita produced the tracks “Elegy” and “Canvas.” Michio Kurihara contributed guitar on “Evil Stack 3” and “Method of Error,” with Präparat currently being the last Boris studio album to include his guitar playing. The artist Gisèle Vienne contributed spoken word to “Bataille Sucre.”
A new, full arrangement of “Perforated Line” with vocals was released on the 2020 record NO, titled “HxCxHxC-Perforation Line-.” “HxCxHxC” stands for “Higashimurayama City Hard Core,” with Higashimurayama City being the hometown of comedian Ken Shimura. The band intended the song to be a direct memorial to Shimura following his death due to COVID-19 during the 2020 pandemic outbreak.
Boris recorded Noise at Sound Square in 2013, releasing it on June 17, 2014 in the US through Sargent House and the following day in Japan through Daymare Recordings (2xLP) and Tearbridge Records (2xCD). A digital deluxe version of Noise is also available through certain retailers such as iTunes, featuring six bonus live recordings from their 2011 tour.
“Some tracks are very prog-like, others more noise-like, while some have metal elements. It’s a real variety of styles. Was that the idea?”
Atsuo: “The concept of noise has been changing among general people and musician[s] day by day, it is obvious in a digital era. The concept of noise definitely reflects everyone’s daily and social life, in that sense noise is only defined by spirituality. I am confident that Boris could successfully reveal the solid answer to the “noise” with our last album, New Album. That is, the noise music in modern era and that the album is the definitive model after Merzbow and Masonna, as next generation.” Source
Noise was produced with Shinobu Narita, who had been working with Boris since New Album. According to the band, the studio recordings of the songs on Noise use the same arrangements as when they are performed in live settings.
The Japanese 2xCD release of Noise through Tearbridge Records includes a bonus disc, Another Noise, featuring four bonus tracks. It features “Bit,” previously released on the soundtrack for the film Confessions in 2010, as well as the songs “君の行方” and “有視界 Revue,” both of which had featured in separate Japanese television commercials prior to release on Another Noise.
New Noise Literacy
“‘Noise Literacy’ which Boris advocates means an ability to use noise adapting the purpose. In another words, a capability to choose/collect/exploit/edit/generate noise spontaneously. Boris ‘reads and writes’ noise. It is a declaration of the farewell to immersive and continually self-purposed noise music.” Source
Boris began their New Noise Literacy “Engage” tour on May 2, 2015, playing three shows in Japan with Endon and the visual artist rokapenis (Yohei Saito). Despite being a series of concerts and not a physical musical release, the “Engage” tour possesses the catalog number NNL001.
During these performances, EROS, a collaborative work with Endon, was available to concertgoers as a freely distributed cassette tape. EROS is one of the only Boris releases to be distributed as a cassette, with the cassette bearing the catalog number NNL002 and the 2016 Daymare Recordings vinyl reissue bearing the catalog number NNL006.
Urban Dance, Warpath, and Asia comprise NNL003–005— three highly experimental works released as limited edition CDs through Inoxia Records and sold at Boris concerts. All three albums were released on May 2, 2015, the start date for the “Engage” tour. They are comprised of instrumental drone and noise music, with the exception of the song “Surrender” on Urban Dance, one of the only original Boris songs to feature English lyrics. The title Urban Dance is likely a reference to Shinobu Narita’s 1980s synth pop group of the same name.
Compilation Appearances, Singles, and Archive
Boris appeared on numerous compilations, soundtracks, and single releases between 2013 and 2015. They also released two volumes of their Archive series, containing six discs of rare material.
Boris participated in Yellow Loveless, released on January 23, 2013 by High Fader Records. The album is a recreation by Japanese artists of the My Bloody Valentine record Loveless and features Boris’s eight-minute long rendition of “Sometimes.”
In September of 2013, they contributed a cover of Dead End’s “冥合” (“Myogo”) to Dead End Tribute -Song of Lunatics-. The cover was produced with Shinobu Narita and was released as a standalone single (labelled as an EP) through iTunes.
In May 2014, Boris and Heap released a limited-edition split 7″ through Baked Goods, a label headed by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. The single is intended to be a tribute to Noel Ford, who had worked with Dinosaur Jr. and Boris as an audio engineer.
Boris contributed an interpretation of Nirvana’s “Lithium” to Whatever Nevermind, part of a series of Nirvana tribute albums released by Robotic Empire. Whatever Nevermind was released as a 12″+7″ package and digitally on April 18, 2015. Their rendition of “Lithium” features vocals from Atsuo and Wata. It is radically different from the original recording of the song.
The songs “キルミスター” (“Killmister”), “Aurashi No Ken,” and “Memento Mori” were featured in the soundtrack for the anime original net animation Ninja Slayer From Animation, which was released as two CDs in 2015. All three songs were rerecorded and featured on the EP Mr. Shortkill, released as a 12″ through Daymare Recordings on March 16, 2016. The extended version of “Killmister” used for Mr. Shortkill features part of the Man song “Many Are Called, But Few Get Up.”
On December 38, 2015, Boris participated in a special collaborative performance with electronic artist Goth-Trad at Daikanyama Unit, titled Low End Meeting! A CD containing a remix of the then-unreleased Boris song “DEADSONG” by Goth-Trad was distributed freely at the performance. Additionally, tencopies of the release were made on single-sided lathe-cut vinyl and sold at the venue.
Video: Full-length video directed for the Goth-Trad remix of “DEADSONG”
Archive I and Archive II were released on May 5, 2014 as limited-edition CD sets through Daymare Recordings. Archive I is a remastered reissue of all three volumes of the Scott Slimm Presents Archive series, originally released through the aRCHIVE label. Archive II contains recordings of two live performances from 2003 and 2006 in addition to “Early Demo,” a disc compiling tracks from the first three demo tapes released by the band and a newly remastered recording of “Soul Search You Sleep.”
All six discs from Archive I and Archive II were released through Bandcamp on August 7, 2020 as individually purchasable volumes.
By 2016, Boris had built a massive, sprawling legacy spanning over two decades. They had recorded more than twenty full-length albums and designed enough T-shirts to rival a fashion label. At this point, they were more popular internationally than ever, as they toured on a near-yearly basis outside of Japan and had begun participating in music festivals.
Realizing the importance of preserving their legacy, they embarked on an international tour with Earth to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pink, following the release of the deluxe edition of Pink that had been released in July of that year. Crossing Waltz, a limited-edition CD compiling live material from their 2011 tour, was released on May 15, 2016 and was sold at merch tables during this tour. Photos from this tour taken by Miki Matsushima were exhibited at HHH Gallery, Tokyo, where the special CD Requiem for the Abyss was given away to guests.
The Pink World Tour followed a period of hardship that jeopardized the future of Boris. Around 2014, family issues and unforeseen circumstances had made it difficult for the band to continue. They entered the studio to record what was intended to be their final release, Dear, but ended up producing three albums-worth of material. They cited the overwhelming support from fans over their many years of performing as a reason to continue Boris.
Gensho is the seventh collaborative work produced by Boris and Merzbow, inspired by a 2014 collaborative performance held for Boiler Room during which they performed without the use of drums. Gensho was released in Japan as a deluxe 4xCD set by Daymare Recordings on March 16, 2016. On March 18, Gensho was released in the US and internationally by Relapse Records, who made the record available as a 2xCD set or as two 2xLP sets, which could be bought together in a single deluxe package.
Regardless of format, Gensho is presented with the material from Boris and Merzbow on separate discs, which are intended to be played at the same time. The listener is meant to control the volume of each disc while listening, creating a unique “Gensho phenomenon” with each listen, though they can also listen to each disc individually. The Boris material for Gensho features reworkings of songs from across their career, including a cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “Sometimes” and the new composition “Resonance.” Their contributions to Gensho make sparse use of percussion and electronics and have a slower, darker sound than usual. Boris’s tracks for the album were produced by Shinobu Narita.
The Daymare Recordings deluxe 4xCD features a recording of a near-two hour live performance by Boris and Merzbow at Shindaita Fever, Tokyo on November 27, 2015.
“At the very first moment, this album began as some kind of potential farewell note of Boris,” the band writes in a press release. “However, it became a sincere letter to fans and listeners … you know, like ‘Dear so-and-so, this is the new album from Boris’ or something like that. We feel so grateful we can release this album in our 25th anniversary year.” Source
Dear marks the 23rd studio album for Boris, released in Japan on July 12, 2017 through Daymare Recordings and released in the US and internationally through Sargent House on July 14. It was produced with Shinobu Narita and features Taro Aiko of Endon on the opening track “D.O.W.N.” The artwork for Dear was done by Kosuke Kawamura.
Dear features a dark tone and cryptic lyrics, partnered with artwork strongly referencing death. “DEADSONG” contains some elements of their composition “Requiem for the Abyss” while “Absolutego -絶対自我-” borrows its title from their first ever release. It is the first Boris album to include accordion playing by Wata, which appears in the intro for “Dystopia.”
The Japanese 2xLP and CD releases of Dear both include extra discs containing bonus tracks “More,” “Evil Perspective,” and the full-length version of “D.O.W.N.” Dear is the last project released by Boris through Daymare Recordings or Sargent House.
Eternity is a live recording of the last performance of the “Dear/25th Anniversary Tour,” held on December 28, 2017 at Daikanyama Unit in Japan. Released as a digital exclusive through OTOTOY with an accompanying digital photo booklet, Eternity contains performances of the every song from Dear, a condensed version of the 1996 song “Absolutego,” and the then-unreleased “Phenomenons Drive.” It does not contain the entire concert, as the encore songs “Akuma No Uta” (performed with Taichi Nagura of Endon) and “Farewell” are omitted from the recording.
LφVE & EVφL and Third Man Records
Boris’s first release through Third Man Records was the 12″ release of their Live at Third Man Records performance, which captures part of their set from the show held on August 1, 2016. They would also visit the Third Man Records Detroit location in October 2017 to record “Kagero” in the Third Man Record Booth. The recording booth contains a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine that records audio directly to 6″ vinyl. This recording of Kagero has never been released to the public and, due to the constraints of the machine, is no longer than two minutes long.
Boris recorded LφVE & EVφL after a period of heavy touring and frequent releases following Dear. The album was announced in May 2019 and set for a release date of October 4, 2019 as a 2xLP set and digital download through Third Man Records. The album consists of two independent works, LφVE and EVφL, packaged together. LφVE & EVφL released on the same day as the Third Man Records vinyl and digital reissues of Feedbacker and Akuma No Uta.
The songs for the album were written during studio jam sessions, rather than being preconceived with a definite concept. The album includes moments that are soft or atmospheric, contrasting with the heavy drone guitar of songs like “LOVE.” Shinobu Narita is credited for “sound effects” on “Away From You” and Etsuo Nagura of Endon is credited for electronics and samples on “EVOL.” An extended drumless version of “Shadow of Skull” was released on the Hello from the Gutter compilation Silent Running in January 2020.
“We always layer on multiple jam sessions, and the songs are born naturally,” [Atsuo] continues. “The method is different from the so-called ‘composition’ process; words and images that we communicate with each other become triggers that gradually clarify the overall structure of the song. LφVE & EVφL has many songs where we made progress on jams due to [vocalist, lead guitarist, and keyboardist] Wata’s manual controls.” Source
Four hundred “tour edition” copies of the album on orange and blue splattered vinyl were made to be sold during the tours for the album. Because the North American 2019 tour preceded the October 4 album release date, North American concertgoers were able to hear the album before the rest of the world. Special tour editions of Feedbacker and Akuma No Uta were also made available for the LφVE & EVφL tours.
Trash-Up!! Records released a 2xCD version of LφVE & EVφL in Japan on October 16, 2019, featuring alternate artwork and unique slipcase packaging. A limited-edition 2xCD set as also made available by Third Man Records on December 11, 2019.
2016–2019: Secrets, EPs, and Other Projects
Boris and Shinobu Narita produced the collaborative track “Day After Day” for U-DNA, the first album released by Narita’s group Urban Dance since their 1986 Two Half. U-DNA was released by Solid Records on July 27, 2016.
The mini-album Phenomenons Drive was released on August 8, 2018 as a limited-edition 12″ on clear vinyl through Hello from the Gutter. Preordered copies and copies bought from the 2018 US tour merch table included a small badge pin. The record features the “散歩” (“Sanpo”), a cover of Katsurei. The UK label Dog Knights Productions reissued the record on “orange crush” vinyl and as a picture disc on July 20, 2020.
For the last show of their 2018 25th Anniversary Tour held at Shindaita Fever on September 22, 2018, Boris gave away copies of the Secrets CD as a surprise to concertgoers. Those who could not attend the Shindaita Fever performance were able to buy the album through Inoxia Records. Secrets is a four-part collage of twenty-three unreleased Boris songs recorded between 1992 and 2018. Some songs are faded together while others abruptly begin and end. Part three of Secrets contains audio that later appeared in the ending for the song “EVOL” from LφVE & EVφL.
Unknown Flowers, a collaboration between Boris and The Novembers, was released on October 11, 2018. It was made available exclusively through Inoxia Records and through the venues for their collaborative live performances. It features recordings of the songs “ひとつにならずに” and “Journey” by each band, with the intention that the listener should not be able to distinguish which band wrote which song originally.
Tears and 1985
Boris released Tears in Japan through Trash-Up!! records on June 26, 2019, an EP of eclectic style prominently featuring photography of the artist and idol singer Kotori Katao. The photography from Ryo Fujishima references the artwork from Led Zeppelin’s Presence, placing Orange Amplifiers in various positions of photos of Katao.
The version of “どうしてもあなたをゆるせない” (“Tears”) used on this EP is produced by Sadesper Record. A music video for the track was created, strongly referencing the style of the 1962 film La Jetée. The credits booklet lists “U Fu Fu” as being taken from the then-unannounced album 1985. “To the Beach” is a cover of Coaltar of the Deepers, produced by Shinobu Narita. “Peaches” is a cover of D-Day produced by Soichiro Nakamura, for which a live studio performance video was recorded with slightly different arrangement.
1985 was released as a limited-edition 12″ on December 24, 2019, sold exclusively through their Heavy Rock Party fan club, which began in September 2019. It shares “U Fu Fu” with the Tears EP and contains the original version of the song “Tears.” Snippets of “Week End,” “in/out/in/out,” and “Epithese” had previously appeared on Secrets. Each song on the album was recorded around 2011 during their New Album era of pop experimentation.
A/N【eɪ-ɛn】and 鬼 -O.N.I-
In 2018 and 2019, Takeshi and Atsuo participated in two projects involving members from the Japanese avant-garde group Z.O.A.
A/N【eɪ-ɛn】is a collective formed between Z.O.A members Seiichiroh Morikawa and Shinji Kuroki and Takeshi and Atsuo. The collective does not have established roles for each member, taking on a freeform structure. The band produced the records 素描集Ⅰ and 素描集Ⅱ in 2018 and 2019, both published by Fangsanalsatan. 素描集Ⅰ was made available on CD and LP, with the LP version containing slightly different versions of the tracks “切断,” “夢底,” and “亡骸”. Their second record contains a cover of the Z.O.A song “日々” and a rendition of Pyg’s “Flower Sun Rain,” arranged similarly to Boris’s version of the song.
A/N【eɪ-ɛn】was born from O.N.I, a tribute band assembled in memory of Masashi Kitamura, the former singer from the band YBO² who had tragically committed suicide in 2006. YBO² had been closely involved with Boris and Z.O.A during their years in operation. O.N.I’s lineup includes Morikawa, Takeshi, Atsuo, and Toyoki Kawaguchi of Bacteria, as well as numerous guest musicians.
The first recording of O.N.I was a live performance of the YBO² song “Amerika,” featured on the compilation CD UGX/undergroundextra alongside a live recording of Boris’s “Heavy Rain.” After two years of recording, O.N.I released Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, an epic fifty-minute expanded rendition of “Amerika,” through Fangsanalsatan.
2020: NO and Present Events
The latter half of the 2010s had been an incredibly productive time for Boris. Between 2016 and 2019, they had produced fifteen new releases, three of which were full studio albums. Despite touring four times in North America alone in this span of time, they remained as productive as ever and had even started their own fan club, Heavy Rock Party.
For the start of the new decade, Boris had several tours and projects planned, but the world would be rocked by the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down all concert venues and bringing international trade to a halt. Many of their shows planned for 2020 were cancelled, and the band would spend some time in isolation before reuniting to record once again. Unable to make money touring, the band was only able to continue operating because of support from their dedicated fans.
Faced with the uncertainty presented by COVID-19 and the inability to perform live, Boris sequestered themselves in their studio, Sound Square. Without prior announcement, they revealed the video for “Loveless” on June 24, 2020 along with a July 3 release date for NO. NO was released exclusively through the band’s Bandcamp page, with the album becoming one of the platform’s best-selling releases in the “metal” category.
NO is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is inspired by thrash metal and hardcore punk music. The album includes a cover of Gudon’s “Fundamental Error” with guest guitar from punk guitarist Katsumi Sugahara. The song “Kikinoue” had been written in 1999 and “HxCxHxC -Perforation Line-” is a revisitation of “Perforation Line” from Präparat. According to the band, “Genesis” is inspired by singer and artist Henry Rollins, best known for having fronted the punk group Black Flag.
“Thrash and hardcore are types of music that I was impacted by in my teens, and still has a major impact,” he says. “The effects of the impact, which has been engraved like trauma, is always within me. There’s no sensation of being drawn back. As we’re at the mercy of the coronavirus peril, the world is full of anxiety, fear, hate, and sorrow. Especially because we’re in a situation like this, performing and listening to intense, fast, noisy extreme music is a form of healing.”
The band decided not to publish lyrics for NO, with Takeshi stating in an email interview, “Our work doesn’t give answers to the listeners, but we’d rather it become material such as values and aesthetic sense that guides you to the answer.”
Music videos for “Anti-Gone” and “Zerkalo” were directed by Fangsanalsatan and Ryuta Murayama, with the video for “Zerkalo” featuring CG directed by Yoshiki Shimahara, who had done the CG for Boris’s “Ibitsu” video. The final song on NO is intentionally titled “Interlude,” teasing the release of another album, with it being revealed that the band had recorded four albums’ worth of music by the middle of July.
Z.O.A x Boris
Boris had become highly involved with Z.O.A by 2020, with Atsuo producing their 2019 album Six Tracks and their live DVD Melancholiac Composers with No Destination on Movie, both released by Fangsanalsatan. Takeshi and Atsuo had participated in A/N【eɪ-ɛn】and O.N.I with members of Z.O.A. Boris and Z.O.A were set to release Refrain at their planned collaborative performance scheduled for March 8, 2020 at Koenji High. The performance was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Refrain was sold online through Inoxia Records and nydcollection instead as a CD published by Fangsanalsatan.
Refrain is a thirty-three minute suite containing the compositions “If You” and “En attendant Godot.” While “En attendant Godot” shares its name with one of the songs released from Secrets, the degree to which they are related is not known. Refrain was released as a limited-edition LP through Dog Knights Productions on July 20, 2020, featuring an alternate mix that cuts “If You” and “En attendant Godot” into separate tracks.
Boris had originally planned for a North American tour starting in July 2020, which had to be postponed indefinitely. During the tour they planned to sell a 12″ containing their long-awaited studio cover of the Melvins song “Boris,” which the band is named after. They had performed “Boris” several times during their 2019–2020 LφVE & EVφL world tour. As a display of gratitude toward their fanbase who had supported them through the 2020 pandemic, they decided to release the 12″ rather than withhold it.
The “Boris” 12″ was manufactured by Third Man Records with an etching on side B illustrated by Mami Saito. Eight hundred copies were pressed on purple vinyl and were sold by Holy Mountain Printing in the US, while one hundred copies were pressed on red vinyl to be sold exclusively through the Heavy Rocks Party fan club.
2020: Other Projects and Singles
Boris launched a merch partnership with Holy Mountain Printing in February 2020. Those who purchased Boris merchandise from Holy Mountain Printing were eligible to receive a free flexi-disc containing a “Akuma No Uta” live with the band Uniform at Elsewhere, NYC, on September 10, 2019.
Boris accompanied Ai Aso on the tracks “Scene” and “Sight” on her album The Faintest Hint, which was released on July 10, 2020 through Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ label. Atsuo is credited for percussion on the album.
To support the Tokyo venue EARTHDOM, which had to be closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boris contributed a live recording of “LOVE” to the first volume of 2020,the Battle Continues, a compilation series organized by the venue. The recording is taken from their performance at Club ZAL, St. Petersburg, November 26, 2019.