Boredoms: Super Going
tylus Magazine's Seconds column examines those magic moments that arise when listening to a piece of music that strikes that special chord inside. That pounding drum intro; a clanging guitar built-up to an anthemic chorus; that strange glitchy noise you've never quite been able to figure out; that first kiss or heartbreak; a well-turned rhyme that reminds you of something in your own past so much, it seems like it was written for you—all of those little things that make people love music. Every music lover has a collection of these Seconds in his or her head; these are some of ours.
Before the eight minute and thirty-six second mark on “Super Going,” the third song on The Boredoms’ late-90s masterpiece Super AE, there is a whole lot of tension.
The Boredoms are one of the most unique bands on the planet. Like many, you could claim them to be both backwards and forwards looking, retro but also futuristic—but The Boredoms (like they do with most things) take it to the extreme. They’re looking all the way back to ancient times, with the most primal of music—drum rituals, tribal chanting, incantations and hymns, and they’re looking forward to a place we can only hope music reaches in the next 1,000 years. Before Super AE they were only one or the other, but it’s the juxtaposition of these two elements—which on Super AE seems as wholly natural as disco-punk—that makes the Boredoms so fucking special.
It starts, fittingly enough, with a rite of passage. The Boredoms are perhaps the only band on earth that would decide to begin their opus with a song that isn’t merely difficult, but actually tries to physically harm the listener. The metallic grind of “Super You” seems harmless enough at first, if a bit monotonous, but it soon turns malevolent—shards of shrapnel cone shooting at you, daring you, taunting you to reach for the stop button. If you listen to it at loud volume or on headphones—both of which are necessary for full appreciation of the album—the son of a bitch really stings.
A very long seven and a half minutes later, the initiation is complete, and the band commences a brief opening hymn. The first half of “Super Are,” the second track on Super AE, is a welcome respite from the needlessly cruel opener. But soon the hymn ignites, and after a bloodcurdling scream from head Boredom eYe, the flame grows more and more intense, Yoshimi P-We and assorted other Boredom percussionists pounding away, getting louder, more brutal. Then a final howl from eYe brings us into “Super Going.”
“Super Going” is manna from heaven. It sounds like the first rainfall after months upon months of drought. The song is nothing but two chords, a repeating bassline, a ton of assorted sound effects, and one false ending. It’s fabulous at first, but eventually you start to grow weary of the two-chord pattern, and pray for some non-production based variation. After five minutes you start to lose hope. After seven minutes you’ve lost hope entirely. Eight minutes into the song: it’s still just the same two chords, the same bassline, the same galloping drums, nothing but tension, tension, tension.
And then there is release.
The tape stutters. eYe wails loud enough for the gods to hear him. And the song switches. It’s the closest thing music will ever come to an orgasm, and it is fucking beautiful. The chords change. The bassline changes. The drums change. And the song goes from a gorgeous rainfall to an even more glorious thunderstorm. The Boredoms can control the elements, and they prove it with 8:36-8:39 on “Super Going.”
Three minutes later? It’s over. There’s more on the album after it, some of which is almost as impressive, but at the moment you can’t picture anything even touching this. For me, no other moment in music ever will.