Boris with Merzbow - Rock Dream (Cover Artwork)

Boris with Merzbow

Rock Dream (2007)

Diwphalanx / Southern Lord

There's a definite difference between listening to music while you do something and letting listening be the something you are doing. I take my music consumption pretty seriously but I am often guilty of letting music fall to the background -- sometimes I'll be working on something and not even notice a whole album has just passed me by. This bothers me quite a bit, but I respect the reality of the situation: It's hard, in today's fast-paced world, to set aside substantial time blocks to stop everything and simply listen to music. Regardless, I do my best to give every record I buy at least one or two ceremonial listens with no distractions: just me, the music, and a couch. You never know when you'll happen upon an album that changes your life and reminds you why you should wake up in the morning.

Sometimes I'll wait months after buying an album to make sure the first listen is juuust right. Such was the case with Rock Dream. I bought it a couple months ago, but just yesterday sat down for my first afternoon with Boris and Merzbow.

Rock Dream is a live recording from late 2006. It's basically a Boris show featuring Merzbow as a guest -- they are playing Boris songs (most of them fairly recent), not collaborative works or anything like that. Merzbow is adding his own layers and effects but the songs are all Boris at their core. For those who do not know, that means it's loud. I'm not going to bother with a song-for-song account of the music, because, frankly, Allmusic does a pretty good job of that. The point of this review is that I think I have finally found music that refuses to be background noise. I had never been paralyzed by sound before yesterday. There is so much texture and weight here -- the sound waves actually take physical form and pummel the listener. I sat on the couch and stared at the wall for over two hours (it's a double CD), hypnotized by the sheer mass of it all. I think I'm still somewhat rattled...

My apartment rumbled with disgusting, beautiful electricity; it was some kind of ecstasy. Each moment of the record obliterates the one before it -- it fills your swirling head and pushes everything else out. It begs to be played louder and louder. (Having just quit my job, I have the luxury of playing music as loud as my stereo permits from about 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. without fear of angering the normals.)

It's not the kind of uplifting, life-changing connection you'd have with a lyrical masterpiece, but it's a physical experience that you won't soon forget. As usual, I'm listening to music while I type this, but it isn't Rock Dream. I think with this release I have found something that I won't be listening to very often (2+ free hours and the freedom to produce wall-shaking volume can be hard to put together with regularity), but I can guarantee that when I do, I will be giving it my full attention.