Starting around the first of this month something strange started to happen to me. I became extremely aware of the date, and not only that, I wanted to talk about it. All of July, and the rest of the year for that matter, whenever someone asked the date I would have to smile, chagrined by my ignorance. But since August 1st I have almost hoped for someone to hold up the line to whip out their checkbook and ask the inevitable question, “Do you know today’s date?” I’d tell them and say, “Boredoms are coming” while I grinned like an idiot. If my new acquaintance gave me a chance I’d tell them the details of the Boredoms’ 88BoaDrum.
For those of you that don’t know last year, on 7/7/07, the experimental noise rockers of Boredoms traveled from Osaka Japan to New York to stage a massive composition written for 77 drum kits that ran for 77 minutes. 88BoaDrum is this event’s newest incarnation featuring another unique piece composed by Eye of Boredoms written this time for 88 drummers and clocking in at a cool 88 minutes. Soft Circle’s Hisham Bharoocha returned as concert director, meaning he got to hand-pick the 176 participating drummers. What? You thought this event was about 88 drummers? Well the boredoms have already blown a city’s mind before; doing it one at a time must be too easy. 88BoaDrum was to be a coordinated aural assault. The festivities would be kicked off in New York, led by Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance while Boredoms themselves rocked Los Angeles’ La Brea Tar Pits.
You’ve doubtless heard the sentiment that some artist is an entertainer above all else. This statement is sometimes made in defense of a lack of technical skill but generally it’s to suggest that the artist in question has surpassed their role and taken it to a higher level of glamour and spectacle. The programs that were circulated aptly throw around terms like “happening” a la Charles Olson’s multi-media, simultaneous performance projects in the 60’s. I’m sure that no two attendees’ experiences will be exactly the same and to me this is a huge part of what makes BoaDrum so wonderful.
BoaDrum is a communal experience that is still unique and individual. In the beginning of the piece I was struck by the awesome power of 176 arms rising and falling in perfect unison but by the end as I got to take a closer look at the drummers I was impressed by how different everyone appeared even though they were beating out the same material as at least a dozen other drummers. Personality shined through the orchestration everywhere I looked, from drummers with obvious metal backgrounds playing furiously through a storm of hair or a showman who decided to throw his stick up in the air between beats and I’m sure people were putting their own personal touches on their parts here and there.
As I just implied, all 88 drummers generally weren’t performing the same material. I’m not positive, but I think there were generally two or three sections within the drum circle. Eye took real advantage of the physical organization of the drums and had the members of these sections dispersed throughout the spiral. There were times too when there would be a chain reaction of single drummers breaking out from around the circle which really brought the audience into the piece as had to locate all the sources. During the event, the Boredoms were on a stage at the center of the drum spiral leading on drums as Eye conducted the piece while manning something resembling a soundboard and occasionally yelling into the mic. I should also mention Eye’s magic noise ribcage which my friend, the super smart when stationary, Nick Barton and I eventually decided was really a bunch of guitar necks with different tunings. Eye would walk over this structure carrying a big stick, or as I like to think of it, Scepter of Sound and throw his body at. The sound and energy involved reminded me of someone ringing one of those huge bells with a rope in the center. These were some of the most exhilarating moments of the piece for me. The lights would suddenly change onstage and flare off of the Boredoms’ kits and the entire circle would start thrashing away like possessed monkeys.
Although I’ve heard that there were 2,500 drummers at the opening ceremony for this year’s Olympics I don’t think I’ll ever be more impressed than I was by those 88. Until 99BoaDrum that is (fingers crossed)
To see a full list of the participants head on over to the click here.
Zach Hill of Hella went off
check out Pitchfork’s photos.