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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