I played my cassette copy of The Cult‘s Love enough times in high school that the oxide wore off. Despite this, the record has enough moments of ridiculous hippie pandering that I’m not able to ward off its distracters.
Whatever. I still think it’s great and feel that everything the band has done since then pales in comparison.
In fact, the record has left such a lasting impression that I’ve tolerated the band and its two prominent members’ shenanigans, regardless of how bad it looks on paper and how bad it sounds through speakers.
Earlier this year, Cult vocalist Ian Astbury signed on to a project that looks appealing on paper and the finished results of that collaboration prove to be somewhat promising.
Astbury reportedly is a fan of Southern Lord records, the label that houses the heaviest band on Earth (Sunn 0))) and one of the best power trios around today (Boris).
In the case of Boris, the feeling was mutual, to the point where they’ve teamed up with the Morrison impersonator for an EP of guitar freak-outs and black magic rock.
Notice how I said “somewhat promising,” because BXI is not without its flaws, a burden that is multiplied in the context of a four-song EP.
The first two tracks, “Teeth and Claws” and “We Are Witches,” sound like sketchbook renderings. They are fragments, seemingly captured at the moment when a heavy guitar lick is discovered and an awesome song title penned. Give them a few more months and some lyrical adjustments before this song begins to gel, but as it’s recorded here, there’s a lot to be desired.
Things pick up a bit with the cover of The Cult’s “Rain.” Curiously, guitarist Wata handles the vocals instead of Astbury, and for a Love aficionado like me, that’s hard to take. It becomes unintentionally laughable at the end when Wata sweetly whispers, “Here comes the lain,” her language barrier becoming apparent with those challenging “R’s.”
Finally, the combination strikes gold on the very last track, the bombastic “Magickal Child.” Boris brings its best Southern Lord sludge to the dirge proceedings while Astbury lays on his best freeballin’ pose, spewing “Brother Wolf-Sister Moon” bullshit, like he thinks he can still shimmy into those Love-era leathers.
The only reason there’s not an unnecessary “E” at the end of “Child” here is that there’s not enough room for it; the larger than life personalities of both Boris and Astbury are packed into this thick cut.
It’s BXI‘s best moment, and it’s also the cut that epitomizes the potential of a project like this, a potential that unfortunately is apparent as soon as the distorted guitar pattern fades on that last track.
I’ll bet BXI are a real hoot to watch live, free from the confines of a studio where their egos are politely in check. I’d pay good money to watch Astbury bellow out “Bay-Bee!!” while Boris pokes out my eardrums with distorted daggers.
But on vinyl, BXI only hints at that prowess. It’s a pesky document of a partnership that sounded promising on paper, one that could have reached its ultimate potential had the group gone beyond the niceties phase.