IF you wandered anywhere near Brooklyn's Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park last July 7, you probably noticed the spiral of 77 drummers playing exultant tribal noise. That melee was 77 Boardrum, a concert by the Japanese avant-rock quartet Boredoms and several dozen of their closest percussionist friends.
The manic dreadlocked fellow conducting them was Boredoms' founder Yamataka Eye, one of the most restless and deliciously absurdist imaginations making music over the last two decades. Boredoms shows have seen Eye starve himself and sing atonal moans, cue samples using glowing orbs and play two seven-necked guitars with giant sticks.
Last year's virtuosic live album "Super Roots 9" explored big ideas about the stories told when sounds freely wander.
"In minimal music, 'sub-patterns' can emerge, which are audible sounds that are not actually being played on the instruments," Eye says through a translator. "In the 2004 live show, I used a record by Jon Gibson and used the turntable to manipulate the sounds. When I did that, I heard voices, so I decided to have those sounds notated and actually have a choir sing the score."
Boredoms began as a Dada-ist thrash punk group whose 1993 album "Pop Tatari" remains one of the most difficult albums ever released by a major label.
Over the last decade, Eye transformed the band into something approximating a quartet of robots playing breakbeat Taiko hymns. It's obtuse (early champions included John Zorn, Sonic Youth and the Flaming Lips, which wrote an album about Boredoms' drummer Yoshimi P-We), but there's a religious sense of wonder in Boredoms' explorations that makes them deeply accessible. Eye's family has a long history in the Shinto offshoot Oomoto, and it shows in his music.
"In Oomoto, there is a belief that all words have a soul, and I think that this belief is wonderful," Eye says. "I loved the drone-like chanting and the prayers. I was definitely influenced by that."
The idea that repetition and errant noises are imbued with meaning is essential to Boredoms' music. Conducting 77 drummers or playing a seven-necked guitar are neat tricks, but Eye uses them to dig at powerful emotions. But the message, like the sounds Eye uses to tell it, doesn't sit still for long.
"When we perform, the members get in a circle and face each other. It's not like watching television, which is more confrontational," Eye says. "It creates circulation energy. Like a vinyl record, it is important that there is a space in the middle with nothing in it."
Translation by Hashim Kotaro Bharoocha
WHERE: Music Box @ Fonda, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday
INFO: (323) 464-0808