“Boredoms are like a moon on a lake. Only there is no moon and no lake. Only Boredoms.” – Yamataka Eye
I have scoured the Internet for the source of this quote and the closest I found was a Pitchfork list which, incidentally, was where I first read it, where I first heard of – and was immediately compelled by the idea of – Boredoms. Alas, I was 16 years old and had no idea what to do with their music when I goy my hands on some of their CDs (I found Pop Tatari and Chocolate Synthesizer in the USED section at my local Media Play).
Then came Vision Creation Newsun.
I found it at a now-closed record store in my hometown, brought it to their “Listen before you buy it” CD players, put on the headphones, and heard this. I was spellbound – I sat nodding my head like a maniac for 10 minutes before one of the shop’s clerks tapped me on the shoulder to inform me that the store was closing, so I paid for the CD and left. It certainly helped that I had expanded my musical horizons past the alternative-radio-rock and Warped-ready pop-punk/hardcore of my earlier teens, but there was something more with Vision Creation Newsun. Maybe the more approachable artwork (compared to those earlier albums I had bought) did something to prime me, or how this artwork instinctually made sense with the album’s title, or just the sheer force of what little of the album I heard. Eye’s chants for – or is it to? – “Vision!! Creation!! Newsun!!” burrowed into my head, was a chant that I could join in with and was excited to as soon as I heard it on my drive home. It was clear to me that there was something undeniably creative happening on this album that I had not heard on the more rock-contrarian Pop Tatari and Chocolate Synthesizer. Here was an album where Boredoms were not something I needed to “get”, not something I needed a ton of context for, but a record where the players seem to simply get out of the way of their music. And so VCN stayed in my car’s CD player for a couple of months and in that time I found myself having a similar conversation with just about all my friends:
ME: “Have you ever listened to Boredoms?”
THEM: “No. Who is that?”
ME: “Some weird noise-ish band. It’s hard to describe them. They are Japanese. They played some dates with Nirvana way back when.”
THEM: “Oh. That’s cool.”
ME: “They have this album Vision Creation Newsun I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s amazing. You should check it out.”
THEM: “Ok. Cool. Yeah.”
Not a single person that I had this conversation with ever told me that they had given Boredoms a shot…was fine by me. This album had become my own secret weapon for the days I was feeling tired, weak, or frustrated by my suburban surroundings. While other friends of mine were listening to guys growling like Cookie Monster about ex-girlfriends and pseudo-politics, I was listening an album of sheer primal force…a record that sounds like tsunamis destroying unknown islands, planets exploding for no observable reason, 2001’s “Star Gate” sequence for the ears. This sounds grandiose, I know, but the album is about ascension – after all the tracks have titles like “◯”, “☆”, “↑” , and “ずっと” (“Zutto” (“Forever”)) – and I respect any band that can see its vision through so thoroughly as Boredoms do here. More important than respect though, I am grateful that after countless listens I am still just as transported as I ever have been by this album.
The thing that keeps VCN such a powerful listening experience for me is the formal approach of the record: basically just insistent drum grooves sometimes broken up by bursts of digital or guitar noise, other times bleeding into guitar/electronic droning. That the album’s 70 minutes flow seamlessly as one whole piece makes the most sonically shocking moments all the more satisfying – even after countless listens. From its first second (a lone voice crying “Newsun!”) VCN is itself an event horizon into the creation of that very thing, one of the most primal and moving listening encounters out there.
I still don’t know how to talk about Boredoms with those who aren’t familiar with them, but I am glad for all the Boredoms fans I have met over the years. I am sure that they too have made up their own calls while listening to this album, while wondering how they could possibly explain it to someone who might overhear them, but knowing that no one will ever ask.
If they do, they are in for a treat.