Vision Creation Newsun isn't so much an album as a pagan ritual, a percussive devotional in which Japanese audio-explorers Boredoms play themselves into transcendent trance-states.
Essentially a single 67 minute incantation —its nine songs are all essentially untitled, represented only by drawn geometric shapes (a circle, a star, a heart, a spiral, etc)— it's an album stunning in its relentless pursuit of an ecstatic state; its torrents of noise and circumvolutions of polyrhythmic percussion spiral upwards, skywards, in search of some kind of communal, musical transfiguration. It's religious music for people whose religion is music.
Like so many ancient societies, Boredoms' figure of worship is the sun: its blinding light shining out from the record's very cover. In terms of the compositions, band-leader Eye often seems to be attempting to channel the energies of the sun into his songs. Whilst the record is undoubtably driven forward by its trio of full-time drummers —one of whom, Yoshimi P-We, is one of the greatest percussionists even to hit mallet on skin— it is Eye who gives it its sense of the spectral; his washes and torrents and waves of white-noise, rung out from samplers and keyboards and turntables, like rays of sunshine cascading down upon these solar worshippers.
If, in that analogy, that makes Eye God, then so be it. Vision Creation Newsun is that good.
Building an Ash Ra Tempel to Heaven
A more prosaic reading of Vision Creation Newsun might be that the Boredoms were attempting to reinvent themselves, to sever their relationship to their musical past. Formed in the mid-'80s as a pure circus act of provocative shock, early Boredoms releases were cassettes home-made by Eye, torrents of no-fi noise made in rebellion to polite Japanese society. By the '90s, they'd become a functional, if still willfully wacky, rockband; one championed by Beck, Sonic Youth, and Nirvana and signed to Warner Bros at the same time as the Flaming Lips, Cibo Matto, and Built to Spill.
Whether, between the release of 1994's infamous Chocolate Synthesizer and the recording of Vision Creation Newsun in 1999, Eye found spirituality or simply a cache of old Amon Düül records is up for debate. But, clearly, he and Yoshimi sought to re-write what Boredoms stood for. Comedy, shock, terror, absurdity, the old hallmarks of the band, were forsaken; their free approach to playing, in all its spasms of stop start, thrown away. After a decade of existence, Boredoms had enough of abrasiveness. They wanted togetherness.
And, releasing Vision Creation Newsun into the world, they eventually found a sense of togetherness, created a legion of followers devoted to their devotion to rhythm. In particular, a core of Brooklyn bands coming-of-artistic age in the early-'00s —Gang Gang Dance, Black Dice, Animal Collective— were clearly inspired by Boredoms pursuit of percussive bliss.
And, when an album's followers go on to be that important and influential themselves, truly something special is at work.
Record Label: Warner
Original Japanese Release Date: 2 October 2000
US Release Date: 6 February 2001