Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Boredoms—
Super Roots 9


Released 2007 on Commons
The Seth Man, December 2010ce
Recorded live at the Laforet Museum in Roppongi, Tokyo on Christmas Eve 2004, “Super Roots 9” is a departure not only from Boredoms’ previous “Super Roots” releases but all their other recordings as well. What defines “Super Roots 9” as an oddity apart in a catalogue of nothing but is not only the fact it contains one track recorded live (entitled, appropriately enough, “LIVWE!!”) but the personnel here is a different arrangement altogether: Three Boredoms -- Yoshimi P-We, ATR and Yojiro Tatekawa -- perform on three separate drum sets while Yamantanka Eye, the group’s visionary composer, presides over the tumult as he issues occasional vocal interruptives, reoccurring live turntable and CDJ signal manipulations while accompanied by two other DJs. Oh, and a twenty four-piece choir that runs throughout its 40 minute, twenty eight second length.

Now this may sound like a mercilessly unwieldy exercise on paper (which the entire score already is, in its thick inlay booklet) but in practice (by listening) “LIVWE!!” is a vigorous, beautiful and moving piece. Its elastic qualities are emphasized with non-repetitive materials such as pitch-controlled signals from turntables, CDJ decks and other electronic signal processors that ferry the piece through winding sonic corridors, raging rapids, random turbulence, pressure drops, modulating syncopation and suspended highs that concludes with a wholly exhaustive and gorgeous finale.

Along with its pulsations, the authority with which “LIVWE!!” is executed displays a soaring spirit and feels as though set to keep building right on the edge of a permanent resolution simultaneously just out of reach. This construction by Yamantanka Eye and his fashioning and constant rebalancing of the propulsive movement of a horizon of drumming against the static, vertical warmth of a full choir creates one energetic and elegant dance. And for all its repetition, it’s also impossibly rich in texture and variation.

I’ve never heard anything like this. Describing it would only draw attention away from its transformative power to its reiterative onslaught. But if you were to reproduce in triplicate form all of Magma’s early female vocalists (everybody from Lucille Cullaz to Stella Vander including Lisa Deluxe, Evelyne Razymovski, Doris Reinhardt, Michele Saulnier, Muriel Streisfield and Catherine Szpira) with the sole intention of staging a live performance of Mike Oldfield’s “Incantations” from his “Exposed” double live BUT only at thrice the speed, minus all guitars AND with a trio of similarly cloned Jaki Liebezeits driving it with the metronomic tautness employed on Can’s “Vernal Equinox” AND spliced them with a trio of similarly cloned Chester Thompsons AND allowed that tempo to instantaneously switch between a speed-freak gallop and an even higher-gear buffalo stampede that occasionally up-ends into controlled chaos just to give the choir some call and response respect while pitch-shifting signal responses, dub echo and effervescent burblings are left to swoop and fly over the repetition and funnel it into a sculpted, circular cycle of motivated groove discharge, well...even then you’d only come close to describing only some of its form but nothing of its function (AND still wind up using too many ‘AND’s.)

One function I chose for “Super Roots 9” was as an evening to dawn soundtrack during the recent winter solstice on December 21, 2010 that coincided with a total lunar eclipse of a full moon. The last time this occurred was 372 years ago (on December 21, 1638) and since it wouldn’t be re-occurring any time soon, I planned to observe and document the event over the course of its entire transition -- from a white disc to an ever-thinning crescent that would eventually disappear into blackness, then to a grainy reddish-brown and its subsequent reemergence into a white disc. Luckily, the skies were clear due to sub-freezing temperature aided by frigid winds, making the entire procession that unfolded across the sky clearly visible. I divided my time between chilly outdoor photography and heading indoors for warmth, Westmalle Tripel ale and “Super Roots 9” on infinite repeat. I figured it was the right soundtrack for such a singular and momentous event. Certainly, it’s the kind of thing you’d do every 372 years. At least.