Absolute ego crush.

"Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows, and deprives the soul both of hope and fear." —Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1817

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Boredom is not a particularly romanticized or sought-after state; it's repugnant to the capitalist work ethic and the skulking nemesis of the entertainment-intake-obsessed character of the West. Perversely, the Japanese band Boredoms have been, since their inception over 20 years ago, riding shotgun with the concept of boredom into ever-broadening artistic horizons. Boredoms singer/central conceptualist Eye has spoken in interviews of the elemental value of the state of boredom, of its potentially transformative effects on human beings. Their music has regularly employed braying mantras, repetitive motorik rhythms, and long trenches of droning noise since the band's earliest days.

However, despite this potentially stagnant modus operandi, Boredoms' career arc has been defined by a journeying, visionary creative evolution. If the "boredom" expressed by the group's earliest endeavors could be classified as the boredom of adolescence and of disaffected and disenfranchised members of contemporary society, then the music they have been developing since around the time of 1998's seminal Super Ae has been occupied with a much grander and more ego-crushing brand of "boredom"—that of the natural world and its endlessly patient expanses.

"Dear mountains! My own beautiful lake! How do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?" So speaks the understandably perturbed protagonist of Mary Shelley's obscenely famous story Frankenstein, when, after abandoning the city for a nature voyage to clear his mind after creating his monster, he finds the stillness of the wilderness not so comforting. Being in a state of existential turmoil and emotional self-torture, he finds no communion with the enveloping calmness. Indeed, to find solace he has to look to more violent landscapes: "The awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing [his] mind, and causing [him] to forget the passing cares of life."

While Boredoms' work has grown more and more aligned with nature (the past decade has found them paying loyal tribute to the sun, recording drums on the beach with underwater microphones, and trying to metaphorically transform 77 drummers into a giant dragon), it has become evident that they, like Dr. Frankenstein, like the rough stuff. They, too, seek to create ecstatic flights via overwhelming displays of violent power. Their present incarnation, consisting of Eye and drummers Yoshimi P-We, Yojiro, and Muneomi Senju, make music of shuddering catharsis and crippling force, with a vocabulary of mana-accelerating musical effects. Their now acutely refined power comes from a healthy understanding that, dramatically speaking, the majesty of great peaks is enriched by the numbing treks through the valleys, and that the long fury of the storm makes the eventual breakthrough of the sun feel messianic.

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When asked about what other music Eye feels is akin to the work of Boredoms, he cites only traditional Siberian shamanistic music, a form in which the sounds of nature and animals are mimicked by vocalists to summon the spirits who will aid them in life. From this perspective, then, the music of Boredoms takes on a new light, as they perhaps are not, like Dr. Frankenstein, merely wandering the natural world in search of its psychic treasures, but making themselves into musical avatars of nature's most epic forces. Here then arise some essential questions about what interactions with nature are most valid/healthy for the human mind, particularly when the mind in question belongs to a creator of such extreme vision as Dr. Frankenstein or Boredoms.

Frankenstein's creation was made in isolation; indeed, no one knew of his work until it was already well run amok, committing brutal murders and eloquently espousing mannered hatred for its absentee father. The glory and the horror of what Dr. Frankenstein made was his alone and, subsequently, he could only empathize with nature when it presented a mirror of the horror; its assured calmness offended him, its tempestuousness soothed him. Boredoms, conversely, make work for other people, seeking transformative communal experiences for themselves and their audiences, and embody the "awful and majestic in nature" to create these experiences. While Frankenstein ended in a soul-dead death chase across the arctic tundra with his unnatural creation, Boredoms' music seems ever soaring toward frontiers of human experience that are dazzling and sun-drenched. recommended