# # Ruins Alone - The Recordings of 2011

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Ruins Alone – The Recordings of 2011

Ruins Alone


When I first heard about Yoshida Tatsuya’s “Ruins Alone,” a solo version of the band by its composer and drummer, I have to admit I was dubious. I guess I was expecting something along the lines of John French’s “O Solo Drumbo” – essentially Captain Beefheart songs stripped down to the drums. Interesting but … not necessarily something I listen to very often.

Ruins is primarily known as a Japanese drum and bass unit, cranking out heavy, hard to categorize, start and stop on a dime, jazz/prog/avant-garde music fit for weirdoids like myself.

Following the group through several incarnations – four different bass players, working with the likes of Derek Bailey and Ron Anderson of the Molecules, Ruins “Symphonica” with a keyboard player and two female vocalists, “Sax Ruins” with the bass and vocals replaced by layered sax – I came to have a certain amount of faith in Tatsuya’s work so I bit on the “Ruins Alone” preorder at Skin Graft records despite my fears.

I first encountered the mad genius of Yoshida Tatsuya in the early 90’s, in the midst of a Tzadik (a record label that produces many unique bands) freak out. When the first sounds of “Hyderomastgroningem” hit my ears, I was in shock. Sure, the vocals were nuts, but … wow, the interplay between the bass and drums, the only other sounds on the album, was out of this world!


earlier days with the amazing Sasaki Hisashi on bass

My mind blown, I became a firm and fervent fan of Ruins (and much of everything else of Yoshida Tatsuya’s produced) right then and there.

When I heard that Sasaki Hisashi, the fourth man to bravely claim the position of bass player, was leaving Ruins in 2004 and then of the subsequent “RUINS – Bassist Wanted Tour” Tatsuya undertook in an abortive attempt to try out new players, I despaired that this might spell the end of the band as I knew it – and it has been.

The release of “Sax Ruins” in 2006, featuring the layered saxophone work of Ono Ryoko in place of the bass and vocals, was a hopeful moment for me. I envisioned Tatsuya continuing along these lines and even touring with a lineup of three or more horn players (to make up for all that multi-tracking on the album) but he has, instead, moved on, focused instead on “Ruins Alone.”

Claiming the music has become so complex that machines are now his ideal partner, Tatsuya has apparently pre-programmed electronic accompaniment for the insane and technical drumming he pounds out in Ruins.

Unlike the time I saw him in Seattle on an impromptu solo tour (the other members of the band he was touring with, YBO2, having been stopped at the border), struggling with a keyboard in his lap as he drummed and screamed away at a kit that continually crumbled around him, “Ruins Alone” is a tight, clean assault on the senses; familiar yet, at the same time, unlike anything else I’ve heard him do. The results are as hair-raising as ever with turn-on-a-dime changes and wildly arpeggiated passages that would make Frank Zappa sit up and take notice.

Delicious Vinyl - Ruins Alone

the vinyl version: delicious transparent yellow splatter

Of the 23 tracks included (on the cd – for the vinyl release you are offered a digital download of the last three tracks not included), half are new compositions and these are the tracks that seem the most successful to me, though I do thoroughly enjoy hearing older favorites such as “Sanctuary” and “Grubandgo” given the “Ruins Alone” treatment.

Much of this release is more reminiscent to me of Koenjihyakkei, one of Tatsuya’s other amazing bands, a fact I place squarely on the electronic accompaniment and cleaner, more controlled sound that is the hallmark of both Koenjihyakkei and Ruins Alone …if not so much of Ruins past history.

Swirling, psychotic rhythms careen and breakneck down canyons of steel, over which Tatsuya can often be heard howling, rasping, and skronking in a ridiculously bizarre, inscrutable, and often off-putting language of his own devising in Magma’s finest Zeuhl tradition. Despite the energy and the apparent madness, however, one never feels that the car is about to leave the tracks; this is a well planned and, ultimately, safe ride. While very enjoyable, the album suffers from this antiseptic feel which is in such a contrast to most of that which has come before.

I still hope that someone will come along and fill the bass position for the band, or any other position that reintroduces more of the feel of human interplay into Tatsuya’s wildly imaginative and intricate Ruins-based compositions but, until that time, “Ruins Alone” does a pretty amazing job of still footing the bill.

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