Sax Ruins


The Japanese alt-/indie-rock scene has produced some bands that
would compel most listeners to confront and redefine their concept of
“extreme.” Acid Mothers Temple, Boredoms, and Ruins dedicate themselves
to taking what’s been done in the past — AMT and Boredoms with
variants of psychedelia and art-rock, Ruins with hardcore punk,
progressive rock, and jazz — and putting their own spin on it and
turning their knobs to that mythical “eleven.”

On their latest, Sax Ruins — formerly the duo Ruins, whose
only constant is drummer Yoshida Tatsuya — is joined by alto
saxophonist Ono Ryoko. They’re still an instrumental outfit with
breakneck tempos and melodic and rhythmic motifs turning on a dime
within the space of a single breath. Ryoko’s sax is rich with echoes of
free-jazz masters Ornette Coleman and John Zorn — lots of
intensely passionate links borne of bebop, highly focused high-register
wails, and artfully-placed squeals and shrieks. Meanwhile, the
harmonious, darting unison passages (massed, overdubbed saxophones)
evoke Frank Zappa’s jazziest instrumental works (think Hot Rats
and The Grand Wazoo).

It may sound incongruous — tightly arranged, droll-sounding
horns borne upon furious, rapid-fire cadences that recall the Minutemen
at their peak — but for the unconventionally minded, it’s
exhilarating. Clever and irreverent, Yawiquo sidesteps the
stuffy, this-is-serious-stuff mindset that plagues some avant-garde
music. It’s probably no coincidence that some of this recalls Carl
Stalling (composer of classic old Warner Brothers cartoon music) on
amphetamines — Ruins are having themselves a party and you are
invited. (Ipecac)


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