Boris & Merzbow - Walrus/Groon (Hydra Head 12")

Eventually there's gonna be a day where I don't buy any more Boris records, but evidently that day is not now. Maybe it'll be the next one, a 2xLP split with Doomriders. Unless, of course, one manages to come out before that one. Which was kinda the case with this 12". It was announced at least a year and a half ago, maybe more. Or it just seems that way. Either way Hydra Head did a real bang up job with the vinyl (in all sorts of various colors and limited editions and probably packaged with Boris/Merzbow t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, slipmats, mousepads, shoes, eye glasses, chastity belts, etc). Woe to the Boris diehard who's gotta own em all. This was originally a tour-only thing, but you know how those stories wind up ending...magically there were just enough left over to sell through mailorder, so you don't have to trade your "White1" promotional pillowcase on the Southern Lord forums just to get one! Hurray! Which is cool because it's a nice looking thing that everyone should take to bed at least once - slick green gatefold sleeve with trippy Fangs Anal Satan artwork on the inside and the record is a delicious white/green splatter platter.
So what's the deal? Dos huevos - "Walrus" is a song that used to be called "I Am the Walrus" before Boris decided it needed a good shortening, while "Groon" happens to be the name of the last track on King Crimson's atrocious "Earthbound" record. You might think with the 12" format that these were stretched to the gills, but it ain't so - about 15 minutes of total sound to be found here. Well that's cool, the fatter the grooves the better. "Walrus" is scarily similar to what you'd expect Boris and Merzbow covering "I Am the Walrus" to sound like. Sure it keeps the faith and notches up the lurch quite a bit more and Merzbow adds scatty, tumbling laptop spackle all over the side like a Japanese Jackson Pollock, but it's certainly not a ways off from the original - Takeshi has Lennon's slightly dazed, lethargic delivery down pat, and even tops him with a more epic delivery of the title lyric...I gotta express some disappointment that "goo goo ga'joob" was not retained, as I feel it's quite crucial to the spirit. Although I can't gripe about that too much when half of the original lyrics are cut out and rearranged anyway, with Wata stepping up to deliver "expert texpert choking smokers/don't you think the joker laughs at you?" in a monotone eerily similar to Jennifer Charles. Merzbow rounds the whole thing up with a little electronic obliteration that's really neither here nor there in the end.
If "Walrus" was a by-the-book rendition of the original, "Groon" is the exact opposite - nary a trace of the original funk/prog/jazz jam can be heard in Boris' version, with the exception being maybe Atsuo's lead-limbed drumming. Much in the way that the "04092001" LP was Merzbow accompanying existing Boris songs, "Groon" sounds like a group improvisation with Masami dredging up mega-sludgy distortion, and low-end rumble. At times you can only really pick up Atsuo and Masami, I have no idea if the other two are even playing anything. It also reminds me a lot of the "noise drone" version of Boris' "Vein" album, for what it's worth. It's nice enough but when I think of all the other King Crimson songs these cats could've been reproducing, I ache. Among others, "Thela Hun Ginjeet" is just begging to be destroyed with some serious heavy metal thunder, although maybe I'm the only one around who sees that as possibly being a good idea. I heard there was supposed to be a new King Crimson in 2007, good news because 2003's "The Power to Believe" ranks up there with the best and helps erase the memory of some of the 80's/90's atrocities they were responsible for. If it ever comes around I'll totally talk about it here, in fact I think I'll put the money I was gonna spend on Boris record #35443 towards it! No disrespect intended. As for this, yeah it's nice and all, but nothing you need to own...I mean you may as well just download "Walrus" and be done with it, although you don't need me to tell you how much better it sounds on vinyl. Still, it's not worth breaking your back/bank to add to your collection either.
"Well, first of all, I couldn't even see his face. I couldn't see his face. He was holding a gun in his hand. Umm... I was thinking...This is a dangerous place..This is a dangerous place.."

Walrus (excerpt)
Groon (excerpt)


Anonymous james said...

"Thela Hun Ginjeet"

Did you know Les Claypool covered that on a Bonnaroo DVD? Surprisingly, it's not too bad (the Claypool section, that is).

The opening track of Larks Tongue is still the heaviest shit ever. Covering it would probably be sacrilege (but so is covering Walrus, so...)

6/01/2007 9:35 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

I don't know about the DVD, but I heard the "Thela" cover he did on a live album with the/as the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and wasn't too bowled over by it. Maybe that song's just one of those untouchables to me, so perhaps it's all for the better that Boris didn't touch it. "Larks' Tongues" is great too, of course. So much to choose from in that vast catalogue.

6/01/2007 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another steaming pile of dead blogshit

4/19/2010 6:26 PM  

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