Boris/Astbury Collaboration Adds Up to Pleasant But Inessential 20 Minutes

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Boris and Ian Astbury

BXI (Southern Lord)

Japanese heavy-psych heavyweights Boris tend to work with a particular sort of collaborator (the doom-drone superstars Sunn O))), the harsh noise wizards Merzbow and Keiji Haino), so the announcement earlier this year that they would be releasing an EP with Cult singer (and Jim Morrison ringer in the 2002 Doors reunion) Ian Astbury caught just about anyone who heard about it off-guard. BXI is an odd little recording; the offbeat pairing lands in some unexpected places, and even if the results are wildly inconsistent, the good parts are good enough for repeated listening. As for the rest—well, you probably never wondered what Boris and Ian Astbury would sound like together, but now that you know it’s happened, you kind of have to hear it, right?

The good parts are opening track “Teeth and Claws,” a dreamy, simmering slice of shoegaze pop that’s both oppressive and cathartic, and a striking reinvention of the Cult’s “Rain,” with hallucinatory lead vocals and guitar by Boris frontwoman Wata. The other two tracks don’t quite fit together—“Magickal Child” is too much Astbury, not enough Boris, and the jackhammer riff of “We Are Witches” leads into a clunky, forgettable chorus. But even those two songs have redeeming sections. The final judgment: BXI is altogether inessential, but there are far worse ways to spend 20 minutes.

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