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Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit I CD (album) cover

BONDAGE FRUIT I

Bondage Fruit

 

Zeuhl

4.00 | 66 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The crazy zeuhl sub-genre of progressive rock may have begun in France by Magma creator Christian Vander and then imitated by many others mostly residing with the French territory but after this crazy jazz-rock's country of origin, no other country has helped evolve it beyond its Kobaian roots like Japan has. The Eastern chapter of zeuhl craze caught on in the 80s when Tatsuya Yoshida emerged from nowhere with his band Ruins as it took the bubbling zeuhl rhythms of the French pioneers and turned it all into a highly sophisticated and bombastic mix of zeuhl, avant-prog, math rock, hardcore punk and free improvisation. The Japanese sector of the zeuhl universe has become known as brutal prog in many camps with its relentless attack of all the characteristics of progressive rock turned up to 11 without showing a shred of mercy whatsoever.

After Ruins opened the floodgates of this free-for-all zeuhl-fest, one of the earliest bands to follow suit was the Tokyo based BONDAGE FRUIT which took many of the aspects of Ruins, such as the avant-prog eccentricities of bands like Henry Cow and brutal bombast a la hardcore punk and simmered it all down into a completely new form of martial rhythmic drive that included a whole bunch of new instrumentation hitherto unheard in the genre's French scene. BONDAGE FRUIT was formed in 1990 by guitarist Kido Natsuki, violinist Yuji Katsui and drummer Otsubo Hirohiko. The band emerged from the ashes of another band Deforme and went through many lineups before vocalists Aki and Saga Yuki, percussionist Okabe Youichi and Takara Kuimiko (vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion) joined ranks and created the band's outstanding self-titled debut which hit the market in 1994.

If that fine collection of instruments wasn't enough, BONDAGE FRUIT also incorporated the talents of vocalists Namie Tokyo and Yen Chang as well as saxophonist Hirose Junji on select tracks. While following in the footsteps of Ruins' manic delivery of percussion run amok with ample doses of noise rock, BONDAGE FRUIT crafted a much steadier flow of musical elements that relied as much on melody as the frenetic callithump of creative instrumental interplay. In addition to the Magma inspired zeuhl rhythms and the haunting choral vocal styles, the band displays a rather Mahavishnu Orchestra inspired style of jazz-fusion that comes through loud and clear on the Ponty-esque violins as well as the Celtic folk tinged guitars that tease in some John McLaughlin. However despite the niceties involved there is still plenty of room for avant-prog angularities such as on "Rigo" which hints at the artier side of the Art Bears or News From Babel.

Lyrics appear to be in neither English, Japanese nor some invented counterpart to Kobaian but rather nonsensical utterances utilized simply as another instrument. BONDAGE FRUIT is a really good album as no tracks are weak and each one resonates a unique personality which makes this album a wonderful listening experience. Tracks like "Octopus-Command" create a cacophonous roar that is as bombastic and brutal as what Ruins dished out which is why Kido and Tatsuya Yoshida would harmonize their passions in the band Korekyojinn that created a similar style of brutal zeuhl that BONDAGE FRUIT constructed on this debut. All in all, this is an excellent mix of musical styles teased into the deeper underpinnings of the zeuhl experience with a diversity that far exceeds anything that came before and while exhibiting an amazingly flamboyant display of weirdness, the album retains firm control of the rhythmic drive and never bursts into chaotic avant-weirdness for its sake alone.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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