MODERN CLASSIC ALERT!!
BOREDOMS - Super Ae CD (Birdman/1998)
Well, 1998 is fairly modern, isn't it? Whatever the case, this is a classic, and for once I'm not going to throw that word around lightly. This sucka goes straight onto the list of All-Time Great Avant-Rock Albums. Man oh man, I love a list. I'll give you a brief list right now. Want it? Hear goes... EVOL and Sister by Sonic Youth, Alien Soundtracks and Half Machine Lip Moves by Chrome, Lick My Decals Off, Baby and Trout Mask Replica by Beefheart, Modern Dance and Dub Housing by Pere Ubu, So Far and Tapes by Faust, Collapsing and Disaster by Amon Duul, Plastic Ono Band and Fly by Yoko Ono, Ege Bamyasi/Future Days/Tago Mago by Can, Charmed Life and The Band Who Would Be King by Half Japanese, Suicide's first album, Double Bummer by Bongwater, Metal Box and Flowers of Romance by PiL, The Mix-Up and Voice Of America by Cabaret Voltaire... I could be here all night! Now that is a list - the list - of ATGARAs. And you can add Super Ae to it.
Super Ae was the Boredoms' first album after being given the boot by Warners USA. Although still inked in Japan, Warner Stateside obviously decided to cut them loose after their two Reprise albums landed w/ a resounding thud and The Kids didn't jump on board for the ride. As much as I love those two albums in question (Pop Tatari and Chocolate Synthesiser), as well as the Soul Discharge LP from 1990, for moi the band was still learning the ropes at the time. Sure, there was an abundance of screaming, noise, clunkiness, wackiness and even a li'l zaniness present, the albums come across like sketches, not fully formed, and best listened to in smaller doses. The Boredoms have improved by leaps and bounds ever since.
Super Ae was when the band first learnt their awesome power as a trance/space-rock outfit. They've since taken that to ridiculous, near ecstatic peaks in the last decade or so, with such albums as Vision Creation Newsun (an awesome, near seamless blend of Hawkwind/Can-inspired bliss) and Seadrum (ditto, though angling for a more Can/Alice Coltrane/Pharoah Sanders cosmic-rock bent), though I think I like Super Ae more than any Boredoms disc because it deftly combines the cosmic-rock schtick w/ still a trace of their earlier spazz-rock, though the "zany" Beefheart-ish stuff is played w/ such a precision and, dare one say, "professionalism", that it makes their earlier material look like amateur hour.
One more thing I must say about Super Ae: it features some of the most head-expanding production of any record I own. You could play this on a big, fancy-assed $10,000 system to your average Boston fan and they'd probably have to admit it: the way the guitars leap out in the first 3 tracks, spliced up to sound like a jet engine getting into gear and taking off, is pretty damn impressive. Of course, your average Boston fan might think the music stinks, but being natural-born audiophiles of the most tedious variety, they'll still respect the production.
Being a rabid fan of Super Ae, I've found, is like being a member of a secret club, kinda like uber-fans of other, obscured gems like the above-mentioned Flowers Of Romance, Charmed Life or The Mix-Up. If you've heard it, and you're into that kinda racket, you can't just let it slip by and forget about it. This is music that digs into your skin and doesn't let you go. Once you're converted, you want to tell the world about it. Super Ae came out nearly a decade ago and it still sounds like some of the best music I've heard in the last 10 years.