Japanese Psychedelic Rock band Boris and New York’s Industrial/Noise Rock trio Uniform have just unleashed their collaborative album “Bright New Disease” on June 16, 2023 via Sacred Bones Records. The label published the official music video for the track “Not Surprised,” available for stream through the YouTube player below:
Written and recorded in the darkest days of the pandemic, it is the sound of frustration, but one founded on resilience.
Boris and Uniform might have seemed like a strange pairing when they teamed up for a US tour back in 2019. Sure, both bands harness the power of big, blown-out riffs, but Boris’s Rock heroics, lysergic sprawl, and monolithic Sludge summon a different energy than Uniform’s mechanized bombardments and frenzied assaults. However, when Boris invited Uniform to team up on a reimagined version of their classic “Akuma no Uta” as a part of their encore, there was an obvious chemistry between the artists. The idea of a collaborative album came up, and the bands spent the next year swapping song ideas and recordings from their homebase studios until Boris and Uniform had an album that captured the fearless exploration and unbridled power of their live performances.
“Bright New Disease” opens with the collaboration’s first single, “You Are The Beginning,” a ferocious thrash-inflected banger concocted by the Boris camp. It was the first piece the band composed during the initial day of their studio session in July 2020. As the title insinuates, the song was written with the idea that it would open the album and, hopefully, open a show one day too. “At that time, we didn’t know when we would be able to resume concerts,” says Boris’ Atsuo, “and our wish became the song directly.” The uncertainty and anxiety of the early months of the pandemic fuelled “Bright New Disease,” and “You Are The Beginning” sets the stage by stampeding out of the gate with vicious palm-muted riffs, snarling vocals, and dual drum bombardments courtesy of Atsuo and Uniform drummer Mike Sharp.
From “You Are The Beginning” onwards, the album continues its relentless assault with “Weaponized Grief,” a fevered mashup of Japanese D-beat and Boredoms’ deliberately mismatched sonic textures. There isn’t a moment to sift through the wreckage before the bands launch into “No,” a deliberate nod to the Japanese Hardcore homage of Boris’s 2020 album “NO.” Respite finally comes with the glacial amplifier worship of “The Look is a Flame,” a Boris-penned song meant to evoke light and salvation over gloom and cruelty. Further heightened by the cosmic synth work of Randall Dunn and the groaning bass of Steve Moore, it retains the ominous timbre of the album while also hinting at the possibility of redemption.
The album’s timbral palette continues to broaden on the latter half of “Bright New Disease,” such as on the standout track “Narcotic Shadow.” Constructed around Berdan’s modular synth arpeggios, aided by Boris’s Dark Wave/New Romantic-inspired vocals, and abetted by Ben Greenberg’s warped studio manipulations, the song offers up a sleazy and woozy counterpoint to the unbridled rage of the album’s first half. Similarly, “A Man From the Earth” feels less centered on catharsis and more fixated on a gritty, buried-in-the-red spin on David Bowie’s glam years. But these deviations only serve to make the album closer and second single, “Not Surprised,” all the more bleak, anguished, and harrowing. The amps are on ten; the sparring drums collide and collapse; everything vibrates to the same gut-liquifying frequency. Much like the album opener, “Not Surprised” was written with its position on a setlist in mind. “I thought it would be appropriate for the last song on the album,” says Atsuo, “and I imagined that it would be just as cathartic if we played it at the end of the show as well.”
“On tour, we learned more about the depth of their musicality, which we felt was compatible with our own expression,” Boris’s Atsuo and Takeshi say of their tour mates. “They are a band that can be described in many ways—punk, metal, industrial – but they truly excel because they are not locked into any style. They are always experimenting and innovating.” The feeling was mutual.
“Uniform have been longtime fans and admirers of Boris. Supporting them on tour was a dream come true,” says Uniform vocalist/electronics wrangler Michael Berdan. Guitarist and producer Ben Greenberg was equally excited by the opportunity to team up with Boris and shape the recording of “Bright New Disease” in his studio. “Wata is one of my favourite guitar players ever, so I’m very stoked we got two duelling solo tracks on this record,” Greenberg says, referring to the intertwined guitar leads on “Endless Death Agony.” This isn’t to say there wasn’t also a shared appreciation for certain classics, particularly when it came to Japanese hardcore. “The first time I met Atsuo he was wearing a Gastunk shirt, and Takeshi has schooled me harder on Burning Spirits than any fetishist westerner could ever hope for,” says Berdan.
Members of both Boris and Uniform talk about songs on “Bright New Disease” in the context of how they’ll play out in a live setting. Under normal circumstances, such considerations are a part of the writing process for any band with an active live presence. But considering that “Bright New Disease” was written and recorded in the darkest days of the pandemic, it frames the agitated and tumultuous spirit of the album in a new light. Yes, this is the sound of frustration, but it was founded on resilience. “In the end, it sounds like the crystalized essence of both bands at the heights of their creative abilities,” says Berdan. “It is a testament of friendship and hope in the face of a world on fire.”
Sacred Bones Records is proud to present the Boris & Uniform collaborative album “Bright New Disease” on June 16, 2023.
Purchase and Stream the album here: https://lnk.to/BrightNewDisease
01. You Are The Beginning
02. Weaponized Grief
04. The Look Is A Flame
05. The Sinners Of Hell
06. Narcotic Shadow
07. A Man From The Earth
08. Endless Death Agony
09. Not Surprised