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Wow 2

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Album Review

Released on Avant, run by Yamatsuka Eye's Naked City bandmate John Zorn, and recorded by him with help from Martin Bisi, Wow 2 surfaced around the same time that Pop Tatari made its initial Japanese bow on Warner Bros. Saying the first album is more experimental and uncommercial than the second is pushing it — it's not like the Boredoms were going to release catchy pop ditties all of a sudden. Rather, Wow 2 is just another wiggy slice of what makes the Boredoms' sound such a great, unpredictable experience. If anything, this release is actually more straightforward than Pop Tatari. The overall sound of the album feels a bit hollow; there's a lot of echo at points, especially noticeable on the scraps of unaccompanied vocals. Still, it's presumably intentional, as is the feeling that everything was recorded in single takes without overdubbing. Eye is the predominant vocalist throughout, and compared to the near Bomb Squad levels of musical interplay on Soul Discharge, the songs here are blunter and much more direct, with crunching lead riffs quite obvious at points. Various flute and sax noises crop up in the usual tumult of sound; whether it's Zorn having fun is left unclear in the liner notes, but it's equally likely that the Boredoms simply tackle wind instruments the same way they do electric: with gusto. "Pop Can" deserves mention for its remarkably restrained feel, with an ominous call-and-response feel to it; even when things start freaking out a bit, the plodding drum/bass combination keeps grinding along while the guitar plays a few high notes rather than launching into more slabs of feedback. The spacy guitar on "Rydeen!!" also sounds great — a nice indication of the semi-prog sense that creeps further into their music on later releases.


Formed: 1986 in Osaka, Japan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Of all the artists in Japan's thriving noise-music community, the Boredoms undoubtedly had the most fun. Although their maniacally extreme cacophony was by no means accessible listening, it was underpinned by a gleeful sense of humor that helped them find a limited (but still surprisingly wide) audience among alternative rockers. A typical Boredoms track might feature massively distorted guitars, squealing synths, any number of odd found-object noisemakers, or studio-manipulation effects; conventional...
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