It is easy to see why many listeners could view Boredoms as a myth; a kaleidoscopic picture, composed of a hundred rumours impossible to reconstruct in the light of day. The snippets of information which are available – some say they are a behemoth with over eighty eight drummers – are hard to correlate with traditional notions of what live music should be. The band themselves deliberately cultivate this myth, employing a revolving cast of musicians, disappearing for years without trace, and radically altering their sound between releases – all calculated to leave their most devoted fans baffled by which stark tangent they may follow next.

But reports from those who have witnessed the spectacle live are uniform in the adoration for the Japanese group; simultaneously they are pioneers and godfathers, thrashing restlessly, uncaring of who follows in their wake.

So it is with trepidation the modest crowd at Kentish Town Forum awaits the arrival of Boredoms. First to appear is Yamantaka Eye – the group’s notional frontman – who caresses a freakish looking, eight headed guitar tree. As the soft, swirling noise meanders around the hall, seven drummers – led by long-time collaborator Yoshimi P-We – take their seats in a circle around Eye, and begin to hammer out a minimal, tribal beat, gradually building to a crescendo. As they do so the final full time member of the group, Yojiro Tatekawa, is carried through the crowd on an open palanquin.

Delivered to the stage, the ringleader launches the evening’s assault, an unremitting full frontal attack. Often playing in unison – with Eye as a demented conductor – the eight assembled drummers are on occasion given free reign to play simultaneous solos, each fizzing in different directions before crashing back together like tributaries to a mighty river. The impact is awesome, with Eye scattering violent, undecipherable screams over the melee alongside shards of tape loop shrapnel. Striking his guitar tree with venom, he controls the direction of the group, changing direction without ever slowing down.

The impact is fearsome, a unique spectacle – at once frighteningly modern and utterly traditional. This is an African drum circle, amplified, exploded and enraged, relentlessly pounding out intricate rhythms calculated to rouse the crowd. The waves of sound ebb, eddy and flow, but continue in one form or another for over an hour – a remarkable feat of human endurance if nothing else. Crescendos rise before breaking like waves, only to begin again, before subsiding once more – an awesome spectacle. Eye calls time on the parade with a final stinging assault on the guitars, before the group disappears from view. Miss this at your peril.











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