Used to be, electronica had no use for words.
A sampled one-liner here, maybe a verse of freestyle there — vocals were subjugated as music, never intended to convey a very detailed message.
Boom Boom Satellites, by virtue of its heavily electronic sound, has been lumped in with the techno crowd, but for a band filed under that genre, it certainly uses a lot of guitars.
In the past, the duo didn’t have much need for vocals either. And seriously? Kawashima Michiyuki wouldn’t give Kusano Masamune, Kishida Shigeru or Fujimaki Ryouta any sleepless nights.
But electronica in 2005 doesn’t have the kind of cachet it had in 1995, and Boom Boom Satellites are cognizant of the change in hipster taste.
Full of Elevating Pleasures, Boom Boom Satellites newest album in three years, finds the band remodeled for the new indie rock world order. Yes, the band still relies heavily on electronic effects, and yes, it still integrates a healthy dose of guitars into its highly kinetic music.
But now the band is writing actual songs.
“Let It All Come Down” sees Kawashima singing verses and choruses. He almost delivers a scream worthy of Mukai Shuutoku on “Moment I Count”, while “Dive for You” could almost eschew its electronic components to be a straight-forward rock song.
Some tracks effectively employ some soulful backing vocals. A gospel chorus blares out during the chorus of “Rise and Fall”, while “Back in the Night” goes so far as to “testify”.
A few tracks still fall back on the heavy-handed rhythms of its past work. “Spine” gets batshit crazy with the drum machines, and Kawashima doesn’t have much to offer aside from the one-liner, “Wake up and check your pulse.”
“Anthem” is not much more than an exercise of echo effects, but a compelling one at that, while “Echo Tail” goes so far as to use a lot of found sounds.
“Stride” concludes the album with a guest vocalist delivering a spoken word piece over the band’s more ethereal music.
Full of Elevating Pleasures is both Boom Boom Satellites most mainstream album and its most daring work. Of course, to fall back on traditional song structure after avoiding it on its first few albums is something of zag to the normal zig.
But the ease with which the duo flexes its rock muscle — while still maintaining its juice as far as electronic wizardry goes — reveals depths to the band’s music only previously hinted.
Boom Boom Satellites asserts itself as the rock band it always considered itself to be, but with Full of Elevating Pleasures, listeners will be very hard pressed to file them back under electronica again.