I was 17 when The Cult’s “Electric” album was released it kicked my arse from here to LA and 23 years on is still one of my favourite albums of all time with it’s blend of AC/DC meets Led Zep rifferama and chest beating vocals. At the other end of the scale I’ve been a big fan of Boris for some time now and I’m intrigued how they so seamlessly switch from drone to doom to shoegaze to pop to stoner to punk in the blink of an eye without ever sounding forced or contrived. When I heard they would be collaborating with Ian Astbury I was intrigued as both parties seemed so disparate in their styles. Could this possibly be a good idea? Surely this was doomed to fail? I needn’t have worried as this 4 track release is a towering and majestic piece that wrenches the absolute best from both sides.
Opening track “Teeth and Claws” sees Boris touching on their more indie/shoegaze tendencies with big open chords that give way to more textured, delicate passages all underpinned by a huge solid groove. Astbury gives a faultless performance that shows how time, far from weakening his voice has seen it strengthen and gain a richer timbre. No more the strutting rocker Astbury delivers a soaring and passionate melody that’s as irresistible as a chocolate bar to a fat kid!!!
Next up we get “We Are Witches”. Here Boris get their crunch on and deliver a track possibly more in common with The Cult’s heyday. A grinding riff roles on throwing in subtle melodic twists to throw convention. Here Astbury’s time in The Doors becomes more apparent as he bares his teeth with a rough hewn Morrison-esque vocal. Wata’s softer backing vocals act as the perfect foil for Astbury’s leather clad rock God persona. This could be a rock club classic given half a chance.
And so to the most intriguing track on this collaboration, a reworking of the track “Rain” from The Cult’s seminal “Love” album. Slowed down a fraction Boris somehow manage to make this track heavier yet more ethereal and mellow than the original. The guitars grind with the filthiest of tones but structurally stay loyal to the original. The real ace here is Wata’s vocals. Astbury isn’t in evidence on this track but Wata’s softer, almost childlike vocals instil the track with a sensuality never evident in the original. When she sings “hot sticky scene, you know what I mean” it raises the hairs on the back of your neck…and some other things as well!!! This really is Wata’s moment as her lead playing is sublime and takes the song to places Billy Duffy probably didn’t even imagine. This may not have the balls out, fist in the air primal instinct of the original but it gives it a new and equally powerful voice.
Finally we come to “Magickal Child”. Here Boris return to their more ambient tendencies as sustained e-bow driven guitar lines give way to thunderous chords and back again. The ebb and flow, the tension and release in this track is spell binding. Once again Astbury gives a powerful, emotional and rich performance that leaves the memories of the “Electric” era far behind. The skeletal arrangement allows him free reign to own this track entirely working around the two chord structure to bare his soul.
Between them in their respective careers Ian Astbury and Boris have succeeded in both confounding and totally rocking their audiences and here the unlikely marriage is one made in Heaven…Boris reign in their fucked up tendencies and Astbury opens his soul. If this collaboration doesn’t continue to produce an album at least then the world is being denied some truly beautiful, powerful and incredible music.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall