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Ruins - 1986 - 1992 CD (album) cover

1986 - 1992

Ruins

 

Zeuhl

3.13 | 4 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album could be subtitled The Young Person's Guide To Ruins, or perhaps Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ruins But Were Afraid To Ask. It's essentially a compilation of their long deleted early singles and tracks from their first three 'proper' studio albums, compiled, remastered and remixed by Ruins mainman Yoshida Tatsuya. As such it's not really a 'best of' - that would have to include all the line ups and some of their many collaborations. It does cover their first three line ups and shows how their sound developed, which makes it an interesting historical document if you're already a fan.

Tracks 1 - 8 come from the first line up, and were originally released on singles and compilations. They were mostly recorded on 4 and 8 track set ups and are much closer to hardcore punk than to zeuhl - only one of them lasts for longer than 2 minutes. While there are glimmerings of what was to come, these early efforts are unlikely to appeal to prog fans and are definitely for completists only.

Things pick up on track 9, the demented Hallelujah (no relation to the Can track of the same name). By this point the bassist was Kimoto Kazuyoshi, who also doubled on violin and vocals. Tracks 9 - 13 are from the Ruins LP (called Infect on some non Japanese releases), which benefited from being recorded in a 16 track studio and which showed Yoshida developing as a composer and arranger. The trademark vocals, a blend of Klaus Blasquiz's Kobaian, Damo Suzuki's 'language of the stone age' and Tuva throat singing, really come to the fore, although there are occasional detours into hardcore noise along with the new found musicality. Tracks 14 - 18 come from the Stonehenge album by the same line up, and show a further refining of their unique style.

The final tracks come from the excellent Burning Stone album, and by this point Kimoto Kazuyoshi had been replaced by Masuda Ryuichi. This was the most advanced incarnation of Ruins to date, helped by the use of 6 string bass and MIDI technology. The best of these tracks is the ludicrously catchy prog/punk masterpiece Praha in Spring, which features a complex but compelling riff and an almost hummable tune. This particular piece was also included on the excellent Symphonica album, where an expanded line up demonstrated Yoshida's compositional skills to devastating effect.

Although there are many excellent moments on this album, it can't really be called a masterpiece of progressive music. It shows the development of one of the most interesting and challenging acts to emerge from the burgeoning Japanese progressive music scene, and showcase one of the most original composer/performers of the last 20 years, but newcomers are best advised to skip straight to track 9 and to take the album in small doses - 74 minutes of this stuff is almost impossible to digest.

Syzygy | 3/5 |

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