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Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit I CD (album) cover

BONDAGE FRUIT I

Bondage Fruit

 

Zeuhl

3.89 | 43 ratings

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Shakespeare
3 stars Bondage Fruit are one of the earliest and most circulated (well, in Japan maybe) Japanese Zeuhl bands. This, their debut album, released in '94, was likely a main factor in the foundation of the Zeuhl movement there. However, unlike other Japanese Zeuhl outfits, Bondage Fruit does not expand much on the avant-garde elements in Magma's music, but instead, somewhat comparably to French Eskaton, makes Zeuhl a bit of a symphonic affair. Of course, the two bands aren't rightfully comparable. Bondage Fruit doesn't follow the trend of insisting, throbbing, heavy rhythms, like Eskaton. Well, not much. The vocal style is different than Eskaton as well, and very much different than Magma's.

The identifying factor of Bondage Fruit, however, is the blend of the aggressive and modern with the melodic and ethnic. There is a very clear ethnic feel to these songs, in the vocals; in the percussion. The vocals are wordless (no Kobaļan here, I'm afraid) and are used very clearly as an instrument, playing either an accompaniment or melody. They do, however, like French Zeuhl, play a very important role in the band. The presence of a violin in the lineup pushes the entire project a tone closer to a soft brand of Mahavishnu Orchestra. It is most often used as a secondary or tertiary role, and rarely plays the melody. I would not say the violin is used in a overtly symphonic way, nor would I say it is used similarly to Didier Lockwood's style. But it's nice.

The tone of the album is varying. Sometimes it's a little aggressive, but never enough to be worth the tag furious, which is a word I very often associate with much French Zeuhl - particularly Zeuhl drumming. The drumming can be quick, but when it is, it's usually subdued or with brushes. In fact, there is often no drumming in these songs, but just a lot of percussion. When it's louder, it's normally less interesting. Not to say the drumming is bad, but when put next to legends like Vander and Tatsuya Yoshida, the drums can be very boring. The guitar work can either be simple acoustic patterns (that grow to ferocious acoustic solos) or slightly distorted electric bloodthirstiness. The bass isn't regally distorted and monstrously complex, so don't expect this to be another towering Weidorje album.

My only disappointment is the shockingly low amount of avant-garde elements. That's not to say the album is without any avant-garde moments at all. Rigo is very avant-garde, with awkward rhythms, partial and complementing vocals and instrumental parts, and a dissonant violin solo. That's not to say the rest of the album is a pop record, however. There's no hyperactive caffeine-over-dose like Koenjihyakkei, nor is there the textural and intoxicating je ne sais quoi de Magma, but they can be a little weird. But in the end, Bondage Fruit just does their own thing, and they do it very well.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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