Billed as one story told two ways, the creative conjoining of sludgy Tokyo heck-raisers Boris and Bristol’s now quiet rioter Joe Volk is a weird one in innumerable ways. Though will the imaginatively entitled Split Release be forever remembered as one of the greater stories told across 2012 now that we’ve truly descended into the nebulous blizzard of year-end, list-phrased prioritising?
Well, the obvious answer would be a staunch no. Though that is primarily because most of said lists were outed long before this week’s release date. Secondly, it’s perhaps all too avant-garde for most to be spared such esteemed thoughts and feelings. That said, however, tales of two halves rarely invigorate and inspire in equal measure upon their both sides as does this one, and in singing altogether incomparable songs from the same hymn sheet Invada’s juxtapositional vision can here again be deemed divine.
Atsuo, Wata, Takeshi and Joe first came into contact at Portishead’s All Tomorrow’s Parties curation back in ’07, their proverbial glitters aligned five years ago to the day there or thereabouts. And this hefty vinyl pressing could therefore be prematurely disregarded as the overelaborate commemoration of an otherwise insignificant acquaintance once made. However from first play, catalogue number INV109 is an intensely rewarding double sider.
Up first are Boris, who chip in with a triptych composition of sorts: Cosmos. To a degree, its three pieces combine to proffer a comprehensive, if indeed concise history of… Its cornerstone is its centripetal second part – a thalassic leviathan of rapturous and expansive opaque metal that could rupture the spleen of the hunkiest manatee even from approximately 3,776 metres above sea level. Tumultuous in the extreme, in agreement with personal preference it is either what the sonically ruinous trio do best, or conversely most of. Though lodged deep in the grooves of their half more intriguing listens lie in wait: the glitch-infested, and largely static swamp of gently undulating frequencies that is its third segment, or the zoological samples, pitter, and wittered gibberish of its first. These are supremely disparate pieces united only in the overwhelmingly aqueous aesthetic in which they’re saturated, though it’s these latter two upon which the ear really catches, purely for they betray the Heavy Rock grain along which Boris have rocked and rolled for decades already.
Though as any self-respecting split-release ought, the genuine triumph of this one is that in banding together a greater and a lesser known artistic force, the hope (or the one that I at least maintain) is that a brighter light may consequently be shone on its less acclaimed contributor. And that, in this instance, is Volk. His gravelly, though still soft grumble may be familiar if you’ve previously indulged in the atonal stoner drones of Gonga, or waded into the never fully defined mire that is, though largely was the Crippled Black Phoenix collection. His two contributions here immortalised, in comparison, are perhaps his most refined to date.
First up is Call To Sun – a resplendently melancholy acoustic amble that evokes sensations of fleeted footsteps crunched down upon crisp, frostbitten blades bathed in blearing slices of lightness thrust through gloomy forestry. Joe’s vocal tenderly layered over the reedy shush of bowed strings and heavily plucked bronze, it’s a startling introduction to the reticent songsmith, and never is it more so than when his opener eventually descends into a menacing thrum of caustic drums and one elongated cello drone. From its still smouldering ashes then arises Finland: gelid as a newfangled Scandinavian day, it immediately feels a paragon of organic sparsity that’s tinted with an overridingly sepia, baroque hue. Interestingly, it remains fully instrumental throughout, thus neglecting perhaps Volk’s trump.
Nonetheless, Split Release is a winner in its own right: that a once seemingly insurmountable gap estranging the one side from the other could be bridged in such a seamless fashion is a grand success in itself. And that the wispy soundscapes inhabited by Volk and his acoustic may now come to a greater prominence is indeed testament to that. Fewer than should will revere this one as among the stories of the year, though it’s a tale that, quite astonishingly, was well worth the telling.
Released: December 10th, 2012 [Invada]