Heard It Yet?: Bossk – 1 and 2

Artist: Bossk
Album: 1/2
Label: Qnotq/Eyesofsound
Released: 2006/2007

This is a rather delayed entry to the Heard It Yet catalogue, considering that it was only recently that I was fully introduced to Kent based post rockers Bossk. But now, after becoming so thoroughly enamoured with their two brief releases, I’ve been shocked and devastated at the news that they have decided to call it a day with irreparable member disputes to blame. Whatever the issues surrounding the band, there is no doubt that in their brief tenure they put out two brilliant EP’s which I’m going to shortly cover here, just to give you the opportunity to hear what was one of the UK’s most promising bands, easily rivalling the likes of Russian Circles and Pelican when it came to writing heavy, primarily instrumental rock. Think of it as a sort of tribute to what could have been.

Their first EP, ‘1’ was released in 2006, and is the very definition of a half hour of power. Rising and falling like an elegant bird in flight, the record only consists of two tracks that never let go of you. Despite their fairly mammoth track lengths, the band never suffer from running out of ideas and let the songs evolve over the stretch of time. There are no sudden changes of pace or ideas, as if they need to keep it fresh to keep the listener interested, but a seemingly painstakingly mapped out vision that is kept to succinctly and expertly. ‘I‘ is a subtler track, melancholy and yet fairly oppressive, whereas ‘II‘ concludes with an almighty build of growling guitars and the eventual addition of barely legible vocals that roar, sounding completely inhuman that leaves you spellbound.

I love these photos where these bands that make such tonk music always look so light-hearted.
I love photos where these bands that make such tonk music always look so light-hearted.

It’s a testament to their songwriting that when you put ‘1’ on, half an hour of time completely vanishes as you find yourself completely immersed into this fantastical world. It’s an EP that leaves you absolutely in awe and begging for more, sounding completely fresh and otherworldly from a lot of stuff that gets thrown in with the rather tedious post-rock label.

‘2’ is the even shorter follow up EP, released just last year. It’s a much heavier prospect altogether, ‘Define‘ opening with colossal guitar crashes and furious cymbal smashes, morphing into a catchy and lighthearted refrain that shows a more joyful side to the band, almost sounding like something Kyuss would have come up with in their Wretch days. Everything sounds so much more defined, the drums now pounding with a deep, bassy rumble that fills out the quieter moments of weeping guitars. There is also a heavier influence of electronic instruments, quivering at the forefront of the song with a reverberating pulse.

Truth‘ is softer, opening calmly and patiently with steady guitar strums that after a while incorporate distant, rough sounding drums. It’s a song that is instantly comparable to the likes of Pelican, who use this kind of softly softly approach to build a song into an altogether hard and heavy giant. The track builds and builds, hinting at some kind of gigantic climax with eager guitars and faster drums, but the band constantly hold back, waiting and waiting until the time is just right to burst out with a powerful and enchanting chorus of instruments that sweeps you up and takes you to bed. And this time, when the vocals come bursting out of the speakers there are no funny effects to cover up the voice. It’s sheer, guttural roars made by a man who probably eats boars for breakfast, and it’s terrifying. By the end you are almost relieved as the track fizzes out, giving you a chance to breathe and realise that it’s all over, and the scary men are gone.

A shot taken from the last time Bossk graced the Underworld.
A shot taken from the last time Bossk graced the Underworld.

The band are playing two final shows, one at the Brudenell in Leeds and another at the Underworld in London. If you have even a passing interest in experimental rock music, then you owe it to yourself to see this band at one of these last dates. It will surely tear you apart.

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