Boris - Vein (Important Records LP)

So, here it is. After two years of waiting and endless delays, Boris and Important Records have finally unloaded "Vein" upon us. Despite the fact that I'm a huge Boris fan, I'm inclined to hate it right from the get-go...actually I started up with these feelings of hatred when it was announced that the price tag would be somewhere in the field of $36, give or take. $36! For a domestic-issue 37-minute single LP! I'm paying a dollar for every minute of sound that spills out of my speakers! But according to Important, what we're paying for in large part is the complicated packaging. You see this isn't just a picture disc, the images you see on the wax are actually printed on the inside, rather than on top (and I'm no vinyl-pressing pro but I'd think it would be impossible to have a clear vinyl picture disc? Hence the additional sweat and hard work). The record itself comes in a thick plastic sleeve (like the "Solomon" LPs) and inside THAT sleeve are two clear mylar inserts containing landscape (reminiscent of "Earth 2"!) depictions on each which match up with the other one. Hard to explain, but again, it looks very nice. Unfortunately my copy arrived with minor slits on the bottom and one of the sides of the sleeve but that seems to be the case constantly with these plastic LP sleeves. Doesn't make it easier to shake the feeling that I paid $36 for (essentially) damaged goods but I'll trust the Important Records people that it was in tip-top condition when it was placed in the cardboard mailer. And I'll remind myself that nobody had a gun to my head - I bought it of my own volition. That'll make me feel better.
But at this point I'm wondering if "Vein" is just a sociological experiement. See, the album went on sale on October 3rd or thereabouts and it's already sold out from the label. But if you read the label's blurb, you won't find any mention of the actual musical content of the record. And that was one of the biggest questions leading up to its eventual release - what genre are Boris doing this time? Stoner, sludge, doom, drone, shoegaze, post-rock, etc etc etc??? But alas, no answers. So the conclusion one can draw for this is that Important managed to sell out a good portion of the 1,500 copies pressed up without ever mentioning a word about the entire reason people should be buying the record for - the music. Basically what this says is that (a) Boris are master entrepreneurs and (b) Boris fans are ten different kinds of retarded, myself very much included. This could be two sides of Atsuo shaving and Important wouldn't have to answer to anybody because they never said it wasn't an album of Atsuo shaving. Know what I mean, Gene? Lucky for us though that the label and the band aren't that cruel (although 36 clams still isn't easy to forgive, mind you) and "Vein" appears to be a pretty significant entry in the overwhelming Boris discography. It opens with a blast of dissonant guitar noise and quickly curls into a fuzzed-out riff of epic proportions, but rather than blast off into the mesosphere it goes the other direction entirely, dovetailing into a smattering of electronic near-ambience. After that an ominous, pounding doom metal session before some Japanese sample plays and the group kick off their fastest, angriest, punkiest sounding jam ever. Squiggly guitar solos, ungodly stampeding drums and Takeshi's vocals sounding their most ripped and ragged and alcohol-shredded. You know what it reminds me of? Have you ever heard that Swedish metal band Disfear? With Tomas Lindberg (of the Crown, At the Gates, Nightrage, the Great Deceiver, etc.) on vocals? Right. The way they kinda straddle heavy crust-punk and thrash metal. Well, on their "Misanthropic Generation" at least, I haven't heard any others. Damn that album ruled. Anyway that's exactly where "Vein" is at, although with a bit more variance - there's some studio trickery in between tracks with tapes played in reverse, some borderline harsh bits namely around the album's opening and before the last "track" (there's eleven or twelve different ones but play as two long sides) and an all instrumental number that goes for about a minute and still leaves you breathless when it ends. The only respite is at the end of the album where the group delve into a 10-minute (also instrumental) Sabbathian workout and touch on various cornerstones from history like the floaty, spaced drones and fuzz-washes of "Flood" and "Feedbacker". Wata provides the proverbial icing on the cake with a wildly epic, stretching prog solo appearing on and off throughout the track. Kind of the antithesis to what the rest of the album is all about but then again I guess that's the point.
If you're reading this around October 11 and you're fretting because you missed out and you've got $40 burning a hole in your pocket and you've really really gotta have this, don't panic. Important's sold out but they're going to be available soon from Boris' Japanese label/distro Inoxia (whose mailorder service comes extremely highly recommended by the way), various other distros around the country, and from Boris themselves on their upcoming U.S. tour dates. Presumably it'll cost more if you choose to get it from a distro than if you got it from Important directly, but those are lumps that you're just going to have to take. Then again you could also wait for the inevitable reissue because I can just feel it in my bones that 1,500 copies is not going to be enough to do the "scope" of this release justice. Boris have always had their limited edition side thingies but "Vein" feels a lot more like a full blown capital-A Album and I'm sure that's the kind of treatment it'll get somewhere down the road. Which pains me to say. And it also pains me to say that despite the heavy price tag and despite the relative brevity of the album, this is a most critical Boris document, especially if you want to hear them pushing the "Pink" formula to the limit (an album which everybody and their grandfather seemed to love - I mean it was a good album but they've done better people!). Remember when Dylan Carlson described "Absolutego" as "the soundtrack to two snails fucking"? Well "Vein" is like the soundtrack to two cheetahs fucking. While wearing jetpacks. In fast-forward. But man...I really wish it sucked and I could tell you not to waste your money and fuck Boris those scammers but damn I enjoyed this. And I hate myself for it. Somebody break these chains - set me freeeeeee!
Addenum: After I wrote and posted this review, I started hearing rumblings that there may in fact be two different versions of "Vein" - exactly the same packaging, just different music depending on which one you get. If this is in fact the case then I can now kind of understand why Important didn't describe the musical content on their website in the interest of secrecy. Of course, for diehard Boris fans, that just means more back-breaking efforts trying to obtain this supposed "other" version...


Blogger Marshy said...

Looks cool, but even $20 is pushing it :(

10/13/2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boris is a Ponzi scheme.

10/13/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

You mean Bonzi Buddy?

10/13/2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Marshy said...

This should help:

Double Your Money in 90 Days.

Have I got a deal for you! I can double your money in just ninety days, guaranteed.

Nonsense, you say!

What? You don’t trust me? I promise you that it can be done. A man named Charles Ponzi delivered on such on such a promise back in 1920.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This has to be some type of scam. Well, I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t. (Put your money back in the bank. You’re not getting rich this week.)

How it all started.

Carlo “Charles” Ponzi was born in Parma, Italy 1882 and then emigrated to the United States in November of 1903. Over the next fourteen years, Ponzi wandered from city to city and from job to job. He worked as a dishwasher, waiter, store clerk, and even as an Italian interpreter. In 1917, he settled back into Boston where he took a job typing and answering foreign mail. It was here in Boston on that fateful day in August of 1919 that Ponzi discovered the mechanism to make both him and his investors very wealthy.

At the time, Ponzi was considering issuing an export magazine. He had written a letter about the proposed publication to a gentleman in Spain, and when Ponzi received his reply, the man had included an international postal reply coupon. The idea behind this enclosure was quite simple. Ponzi was to take the coupon to his local post office and exchange it for American postage stamps. He would then use those American stamps to send the magazine to Spain.

Ponzi noticed that the postal coupon had been purchased in Spain for about one cent in American funds. Yet, when he cashed it in, he was able to get six American one-cent stamps. Just think of the possibilities if you could do this. You could buy $100 worth of stamps in Spain and then cash them in for $600 worth of stamps in the United States. Then cash in or sell the stamps to a third party and you have, well, good old cash. You just can’t get this kind of interest in the bank.

Ponzi’s mind quickly went into overdrive and devised a clever scheme to capitalize on his idea. He was determined to be a rich man. His first step was to convert his American money into Italian lire (or any other currency where the exchange rate was favorable). Ponzi’s foreign agents would then use these funds to purchase international postal coupons in countries with weak economies. The stamp coupons were then exchanged back into a favorable foreign currency and finally back into American funds. He claimed that his net profit on all these transactions was in excess of 400%.

Was he really able to do this? The answer is a definite no. The red tape of dealing with the various postal organizations, coupled with the long delays in transferring currency, ate away at all Ponzi’s imagined profits.

Things got just a bit out of hand…

A failed scheme couldn’t keep Ponzi from bragging about his great idea. Friends and family members easily understood what he was saying and they wanted in on the investment. And, lets face it, if you flash money in someone’s face, they are bound to take it.

On December 26, 1919, Ponzi filed an application with the city clerk establishing his business as The Security Exchange Company. He promised 50% interest in ninety days and the world wanted in on it. Yet, he claimed to be able to deliver on his promise in just forty-five days. This, of course, translates into being able to double your money in just ninety days.

Word spread very quickly about Ponzi’s great idea and within a few short months the lines outside the door of his School Street office began to grow. Thousands of people purchased Ponzi promissory notes at values ranging from $10 to $50,000. The average investment was estimated to be about $300. (That was a big chunk of pocket change in those days.)

You are probably sitting there puzzled. Why would so many people invest in a scheme that didn’t work? The real reason was that the early investors did see the great returns on their money. Ponzi used the money from later investors to pay off his earlier obligations. It was a new twist on the age-old pyramid scheme.

With an estimated income of $1,000,000 per week at the height of his scheme, his newly hired staff couldn’t take the money in fast enough. They were literally filling all of the desk drawers, wastepaper baskets, and closets in the office with investor’s cash. Branch offices opened and copycat schemes popped up across New England.

By the summer of 1920, Ponzi had taken in millions and started living the life of a very rich man. Ponzi dressed in the finest of suits, had dozens of gold-handled canes, showered his wife in fine jewels, and purchased a twenty-room Lexington mansion.

The Crash

Any get rich scheme is certain to attract the attention of the law, and Ponzi was no exception. From the start, federal, state, and local authorities investigated him. Yet, no one could pin Ponzi with a single charge of wrongdoing. Ponzi had managed to pay off all of his notes in the promised forty-five days and, since everyone was happy to get their earnings, not a single complaint had ever been filed.

On July 26, 1920, Ponzi’s house of cards began to collapse. The Boston Post headlined a story on the front page questioning the legitimacy of Ponzi’s scheme. Later that day, the District somehow convinced to suspend taking in new investments until an auditor examined his books. (Why anyone who was doing something so highly illegal would let auditors examine his books is beyond me.)

Within hours, crowds of people lined up outside Ponzi’s door demanding that they get their investment back. Ponzi obliged and assured the public that his organization was financially stable and that he could meet all obligations. He returned the money to those that requested it. By the end of the first day, he had settled nearly 1000 claims with the panicked crowd.

By continuing to meet all of his obligations, the angry masses began to dwindle and public support swelled. Crowds followed Ponzi’s every move. He was urged by many to enter politics and was hailed as a hero. Loud cheers and applause were coupled with people eager to touch his hand and assure him of their confidence.

And Ponzi continued to dream. He had planned to establish a new type of bank where the profits would be split equally between the shareholders and the depositors. He also planned to reopen his company under a new name, the Charles Ponzi Company, whose main purpose was to invest in major industries around the world. (Apparently, no one ever told Ponzi that the key to any successful swindle was to take the money and run.)

The public continued to support him until August 10, 1920. On this date, the auditors, banks, and newspapers declared that Ponzi was definitely bankrupt. Two days later, Ponzi confessed that he had a criminal record, which just worsened his situation. In 1908, he had served twenty months in a Canadian prison on forgery charges related to a similar high-interest scheme that he had participated in there. This was followed in 1910 by an additional two-year sentence in Atlanta, Georgia for smuggling five Italians over the Canadian border into the United States.

On August 13th, Ponzi was finally arrested by federal authorities and released on $25,000 bond. Just moments later he was rearrested by Massachusetts authorities and re-released on an additional $25,000 bond.

In the end…

The whole thing turned into one gigantic mess. There were federal and state civil and criminal trials, bankruptcy hearings, suits against Ponzi, suits filed by Ponzi, and the ultimate closing of five different banks.
Of course, we cannot forget the problem of trying to settle Ponzi’s accounts in an attempt to return all of the people’s investments.

An estimated 40,000 people had entrusted an estimated fifteen million dollars (about $140 million in U.S. funds today) in Ponzi’s scheme. A final audit of his books concluded that he had taken in enough funds to buy approximately 180,000,000 postal coupons, of which they could only actually confirm the purchase of two.

Ponzi’s only legitimate source of income was $45 that he received as a dividend of five shares of telephone stock. His total assets came to $1,593,834.12, which didn’t come close to paying off the outstanding debt. It took about eight years, but note holders were able to have an estimated thirty-seven percent of their investment returned in installments. In other words, many people lost big time.

Ultimately, Ponzi was sentenced to five years in federal prison for using the mails to defraud. After three and one-half years in prison, Ponzi was sentenced to additional seven to nine years by Massachusetts’s authorities. He was released on $14,000 bond pending an appeal and disappeared about one-month later.

Where did he go? Did he leave the country? Did he just vanish off of the face of the Earth? No one was really sure.

No, he turned up a short time later in the great state of Florida. Under the assumed name of Charles Borelli, Ponzi was involved in a pyramid (big surprise, huh?) land scheme. He was purchasing land at $16 an acre, subdividing it into twenty-three lots, and selling each lot off at $10 a piece. He promised all investors that their initial $10 investment would translate into $5,300,000 in just two years. Wow!!! Too bad much of that much of the land was underwater and absolutely worthless.

Ponzi was indicted for fraud and sentenced to one year in a Florida prison. Once again, he jumped bail on June 3, 1926 and ran off to Texas. He hopped a freighter headed for Italy, but was captured on June 28th in a New Orleans port. On June 30th he sent a telegram to President Calvin Coolidge asking to be deported. Ponzi’s request was denied and he was sent back to Boston to complete his jail term. After seven years, Ponzi was released on good behavior and deported to Italy on October 7, 1934. Believe it or not, even after all of his swindling, he still had many fans that were there to give him a rousing sendoff.

Back in Rome, Ponzi became an English translator. Mussolini then offered him a position with Italy’s new airline and he served as the Rio de Janeiro branch manager from 1939-1942. Ponzi discovered that several airline officials were using the carrier to smuggle currency and Ponzi wanted a cut. When they refused to include him, he tipped off the Brazilian government. The Second World War brought about the airline’s failure and Ponzi soon found himself unemployed.

Once again, he wandered from job to job. He tried running a Rio lodge, but that failed. He then alternated between earning a pittance providing English lessons and drawing from the Brazilian unemployment fund.
Ponzi died in January of 1949 in the charity ward of a Rio de Janeiro hospital. Somehow, the man who had gone from poverty to multi-millionaire and right back to poverty in a matter of six months had managed to save up $75 to cover the costs of his burial. He left behind an unfinished manuscript appropriately titled “The Fall of Mister Ponzi”. And what a rise and fall it was.

Useless? Useful? I’ll leave that for you to decide.


10/14/2006 1:02 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Darn, I like looking at a purple cartoon gorilla more than I like reading :(

10/14/2006 2:13 AM  
Blogger archigram said...

No way, I've also been on a huge Creel Pone/Mimaroglu Music kick lately. I just received six more yesterday! I love the little mini lp packaging, so thin but classy, and all the little extra bits on some releases... so much love goes into this product. Now for the music, I pretty much took a chance on most of this stuff, and with the price being so reasonable, I'll likely end up ordering all the Creel Pone's I can.

I love the Zajda, Birchall, as well as Pythagoron and Jocy de Oliveiro (sp?). I got the Schitzler, Nino Nardini and Gil Melle last month, having long searched for all three of those titles. Great stuff all around, and I commend both Mr. Keith Fullerton-Whitman and Mr. Creel Pone. What a great thing they've got going there!

The upcoming Parmegiani is a great one too. I have a crappy vinyl rip on cd-r, but I look forward to the CP treatment.

10/21/2006 6:57 PM  
Blogger archigram said...

OOPS. I meant for my above comment to be in the Creel Pone reviews. Sorry...

10/21/2006 6:59 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

I'm with you on all counts dude, and looking forward to picking some more up. Maybe I'll try a few of the ones you've got. I just gotta wait for a bit more cash flow, you know how it is.

10/22/2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous danno said...

this album is actually fantastic in the sense that yet again Boris takes on a genre that many followers are probably unaware of. The underground hardcore noise punk scene is teeming with bands that sounds EXACTLY such as this album, Framtid, Gloom, Confuse, and so on. these bands have been around for sometime but Boris nails it of course adding their own doom edge!

12/19/2007 5:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home