Friday, February 26, 2010

Ruins - Mandala 2000: Live at the Kichijoji Mandala II (2000)

| Progressive Rock | Experimental Rock | Avant-Garde |
| Free-Prog | Noise Rock |

Without a doubt, Tatsuya Yoshida is one of the most important drummers on the Japanese scene in the final decades of the 20th to the 21st century, having spearheaded at least a half dozen of that country's most important groups. Perhaps best-known among these would be the Ruins; an ironic band name coming from a land in which most aspects of antiquity have been preserved rather than destroyed. This group's unique basic instrumentation of drums and bass was no less than a palace revolt against the established role of the rhythm section. As if setting the basement servant headquarters aflame and then tromping upstairs to take control of the house proper, the two musicians let their amazingly intricate rhythmic patterns become the music -- not that "rhythmic patterns" is much of a description of what most of it sounds like, kind of like calling the Thames River "water." Although he has said his main influence was European progressive rock drummer Christian Vander, Tatsuya was still usually heard in the traditional drummer's ensemble role. Having long since stepped beyond that, he has had an interesting development creating his own solo music; becoming a one-man band in the process and using elements of everything from sheer noise to disco and pop.

The Ruins are known for their energetic live performances, but they truly surpassed themselves on Mandala 2000: Live at Kichijoji Mandala II. Recorded on May 12, 2000, this CD contains 23 tracks performed with merely an occasional half-second break here and there. Drummer Yoshida Tatsuya and bassist Sasaki Hisashi storm through a cross-section of compositions spanning 15 years of existence, five improvisations, and the two famous light-speed medleys "Classical Music Medley" and "Hardrock Medley" -- the group's answer to John Oswald's Plunderphonics. Electric violinist Katsui Yuji joined the duo for the last portion of the show. Throughout the years, the Ruins have covered every possible ground between symphonic progressive rock, avant punk, and free rock. By 2000, they had achieved a level of fusion between those styles and an almost inhuman technique. An unstoppable locomotive, Mandala 2000 features many highlights: the complex "Vrresto," "Bupphairodazz," "Znohjmo," the medleys, the spacy "Impro 4." The incomparable musicianship and stunning performance found on Mandala 2000 makes this a definitely must-have for Ruins fans and a convincing place to start for newcomers. This CD ranks very high in their discography.

Catalog: TZ 7234 (Tzadik)
Album Overview on Allmusic
Download (192kbps)

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