Repetition is an odd thing. Often considered monotonous and lazy, it’s a very difficult concept to balance well, let alone create beauty through. At face value, repetition seems to offer comfort in the delivery of something we already know and enjoy, utilising familiarity to its advantage. While this is often the case, the best repetition thoughtfully explores the power of subtlety and gradual transition to transform an object into something else entirely. It’s a testament to the facilitation of time as a force of movement. That’s where Japanese drone-metal band Boris enter with their 2000 album Flood. Despite Boris’ roots as a predominantly metal-influenced group, at its core, Flood offers a broader exploration of genre than other typical releases of the band. Deconstructing Flood, which is built upon 4 distinct compositional passages, sees the movement through minimalism, post-rock, drone-metal and finally ambient. While tackling the 4 of these genres on a single album should be considered an impressive triumph in and of itself, where Boris succeed above all expectations is through their skill in tying each passage together into a formidable body of work.
Flood begins cautiously, introducing simple, pleasant guitar plucking with the faint background sounds of the drop of a cassette deck. It doesn’t take long before it becomes evident that there’s more at play. The guitar begins to lose its sense of harmony and fall out of sync ever so slowly, making minutes seem like seconds through its defining trance. With the introduction of compressed drumming bursts that are honestly best described as cannon fire, the uneasy tension builds to a crashing jaw-dropping crescendo. Flood II picks up immediately where the first track leaves off, now seeking to rebuild the sense of peace that was crumbled to dust throughout the opener. Easily the standout track, Flood II’s incessantly slow progression backed by the gentle ticking drums is exceptional. The explorative guitar melodies are gorgeous beyond words and the final extended, piercing notes could ring out forever and I’d be happy.
Flood III is where Boris reveal their true colours as a drone metal band. Calling back to the ending of Flood I, the song revels in destruction and noisy catharsis. Featuring the only vocal section on the record, the focus isn’t to make things faster but instead to accent everything from before until it’s sufficiently louder and fuzzier. It’s an incredibly dense and viscous affair, yet still fluid, shifting between drum patterns and guitar rhythms amongst the haze. Finally we are led into the closer where clarity is opened once more, refreshing breaths of air providing relief from the prior dense onslaught. Soft echoey sounds gently push out of the water, the journey finally completed as all movement comes to an eventual standstill in the form of a quiet fade out. The final minutes see the subtlest of drone notes stretch outwards, crawling forward purposelessly before evaporating into silence.
Flood isn’t merely the construction and compilation of these 4 predominantly genre-seperate passages, which instead merge between one another flawlessly through clever production decisions and compositional directions. The ebb and flow between the louder abrasive segments contrast excellently against the lighter drawn-out guitar work. In doing so, it allows Flood to merge into a wider narrative that progresses organically along its extended runtime. Due to the specific nature and the progression of the LP, I often draw comparisons between the music and typical fiction narrative. An introduction (Flood I), exploration and building of characters (Flood II), creation of tension into an eventual climax (Flood III) and prolonged resolution (Flood IV), are all present, exhibiting more than enough elements to construct an epic story. This creativity in the intertwining of music with narrative is breathtaking and further encourages listeners to embellish their own imagination in developing some awe-inspiring personal story that Flood represents to them. In my eyes, the tale is something comparable to the film Seven Samurai, another Japanese piece, which is one of the the purest expressions of the traditional narrative structure that I’ve come across. Plus, Seven Samurai features a lot of rain.
Flood is a lesson in patience. It strives to flow around you, washing and cleansing as its gorgeous melodies and droning notes swirl into a whirlpool, sucking and drowning out the rest of the world, its flood creeping slowly in. It’s undoubtedly an easy album to get lost in and one of the most important front-to-back listens in existence. Putting it on shuffle would simply not do it justice. Both gorgeous and meditative, while at times all-encompassing, Flood’s diverse textures are unrivalled and unmatched, solidifying the album’s fluid depth as a progressive, un-presumptuous masterwork.