Saturday, 19 April 2014

Bo Ningen - III

Bo Ningen
Rating: 4/5

Challenging at best, completely obtuse at worst, Bo Ningen's records have always trodden a fine line between fuzzed-out psych punk genius and shredding, aimless noise. For the most part it's a divide they've stayed on the right side of, and on 'III' they deliver their most coherent listening experience yet. 

Though 'DaDaDa' kicks things off in typically heavy fashion, it doesn't set the tone for the entire album. The following four tracks - including excellent stoner rock cut 'Slider' - continue the theme, in doing so also capriciously capturing the essence and spirit of a Bo Ningen live show, so much as such a thing is possible. 

The second half of the record is a surprise, however. On 'Mukaeni Ikenai' the band toy with soundscape-rich shoegaze for nine glorious minutes. 'Maki-Modoshi' and 'Mitsume' pick up where the heavier tracks left off, but bring with them a more confident groove and rhythmic hooks. 'Ogosokana Ao' also shines, bringing the tempo back down for a gauzy electronica interlude. 

The danger with Bo Ningen is that for all their unpredictability, they nevertheless have a clearly defined sound of their own. Their challenge is making all of the elements within that work together consistently in harmony and without letting the secret formula for it all lead them to stale or facile work. The triumph therefore of 'III' is not only that the parts which sound most like Bo Ningen are as good as ever, but that they sound fresh enough to rub shoulders with the unexpected.