Seadrum/House of Sun - Boredoms - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #70

I’ve had a long, boring and particularly busy week, and frankly my thoughts about new music were kind of left by the wayside. Y’know whenever you’re feeling a bit pathetic and all you want to do is eat junk food, comfort food? That taste that you’re so familiar and happy with and you know it’s going to provide for you exactly what you need at the time: comfort. Well, you can do that with music too. Oh my brothers I was comfort listening, retreating back to the solace of classics I’ve known for years and years, craving the sounds I know inside and out, front and back, just because they were familiar: a pat on the shoulder, a way to switch off my mind and not to think. Well, it’d been a few days and nothing was inspiring me to write: in fact I had absolutely no qualms about not even attempting to write this week. That is, until, my feeble little consoling wall of protection was battered and broken down by such a ferocious and transcendental piece of music that my perspective on the week changed. Comfort: no way! It’s time to get up and take action, be inspired, build bridges and overthrow dictators and write an epic poem. Such a breath of fresh air this album was! And the thing is, I’ve had it for years and years: its brilliance only being revealed to me now is either a colossal cosmic joke or else an example of timing at its most impeccable.

Boredoms are one of Japan’s strangest outputs, and considering they’ve given us the cube shaped watermelon that’s saying something. Frontman Yamantaka Eye, also of Naked City fame, never shied away from extremely dissonant screeching as the rest of the band employed a curious thrash metal/rock/minimalist sound, rendering them virtually uncategorized but attracting the attention of the open minded worldwide. On Seadrum/House of Sun, they drop their almost comic edge, strip away the most severe of their experimental tendencies, and distill their finest qualities into two long pieces, each of a markedly different character. The opener Seadrum begins unimposingly, with some enigmatic acapella vocals howling out against the dull silence, a seafarer’s song, the lonesome cry of the weary traveller. Suddenly, out of nowhere appears a barrage of percussion: tribal drumming of the most stellar proportions, an aural assault of superhuman prowess! The persistence, the ferocity: like a marching band or an invading military force. How dare I sit around feeling sorry for myself with this on! And yet I daren’t feel guilty, as that would be just as much of an insult. I’m just going to ride with the music and see where it takes me, and it doesn’t take long before it’s taking me higher and higher: those waves are getting bigger, at first gently lifting me up and riding the current, then slowly and more surely dragging me in against my will, throwing me amongst the dozens of gallons of ferocious spray, battered and shaken, but alive dammit, and never feeling more so. As the drums continue, in come the vocals, chanting monastically, mysteriously, captivatingly… adding to the furor and enigma is a crazed piano: a Cecil Taylor one-trick-pony, confined to the upper octaves of the piano and condemned to spend eternity sprinkling at the ivories, cascading up and down in rhythm, pummeling the keys into submission like a lunatic. The insanity and effulgence of Seadrum is enough to rouse coma patients from their vegetative state, and over 23 minutes it just does not let up, not until the end where the drums subside and a reflective piano takes us to the sadly inevitable conclusion. Rarely have I heard music with vigor and just pure adrenaline… it’s an inspiration. I feel like I could conquer the world.

Boredoms 7th of July 2007, NY, brought together
77 drummers for the 77 Boa drum concert.
House of Sun somehow manages to compliment Seadrum perfectly despite being dramatically different. I guess conquering the world is a lot of work, huh? You need some chillout time. Whereas the previous track was all energy and drive and focus, House of Sun is time for us to tune in, turn on and drop out, man. Functioning like a long outtake from one of George Harrison’s more psychedelic Indian recordings, this is all loops, drones and sitars. No vocals, no drums, just twenty minutes of mind-massaging, problem-assuaging, fly me to the moon shizz. It’s not as immediately gratifying, it’s not as in your face, but my word on a hazy day, a peaceful mood, this is life-affirming stuff. Calming and yet demanding, it grips to your mind and refuses to be shaken off, and once you think you’re forgotten about it, it claws its way back. It’s always there, pervading your senses, just niggling in the back of your mind until it becomes a part of you, a second voice of consciousness. Remarkable.

From the cover of a nineties video
Arise, o sleeper, from your slumbers! Seadrum/House of Sun is inspired stuff and it demands the same inspiration from you to even just listen to it… you can’t just sit and let this album passively wash over you. Sure, it’s oceanic and aquatic – it ain’t called Seadrum for nothing  – but it explores the ocean for the fierce tempest that it is. And House of Sun takes you and soothes you after the ferociousness of the storm, but in a way that nevertheless requires your attention so that it can grab hold of it and remove your sprightly concerns. This album is a marvel. Seadrum/House of Sun hit me like the foamy cascade that it is, and I can’t help but attempt to spread the ripples.

Words - Adam

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