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Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit IV CD (album) cover


Bondage Fruit



3.48 | 49 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Organic Wild Berry Jam

After finally digesting Magma, I decided to try out some other Zeuhl artists and Bondage Fruit inevitably came into the rotation. Their fourth album was rated their best and I picked it up on that merit. The sound of this record was a surprise, quite a departure from Magma or even more prototypical Japanese Zeuhl like Koenjihyakkei. Instead, we get a mixture of jazz fusion via both Weather Report and Mahavishnu, Krautrock ethic, a touch of Japanese noise, and wild energy. Clearly, the six tracks here are less "songs" than jams with very intentional moods or feels. Some have melodic themes that serve as an anchor, but more often each piece finds its identity in the timbre of the instruments, the groove of the rhythm section, the emotion of the expression. Despite the seemingly very disparate influences I'll describe, the music is surprisingly coherent. A very organic "live in the studio" feel is achieved, and I'm fairly confident these artists would have been very capable of recreating these works live.

1. Minus One - The album opens with a strummed bluesy clean electric guitar riff that quickly gives way to a chaotic mixture of big bass, somewhat abrasive jazz violin, and mallets. The almost Hendrix-y riff periodically brings the mess back to reality several times before it gets to tiresome. There is also one shared melodic line that adds some sanity. Well done, but my least favorite song on the album. Luckily, the album gets progressively better as is goes.

2. Prayer - Just when we thought we were in for an hour of loose jazz-rock jams, in comes a swampy guitar playing a remarkably straight two-note groove. Bluesy harmonica and guitar remind of a Chicago night club late on Thursday night or maybe early Friday morning. After this mood is established, there are intermittent druggy passages that seem like scenes in a film noir movie.

3. Screen Game - From slowly bluesy drugged out swamp to the real thing. A quick slide guitar opens this one before the drums and keys enter with an intensity that seems like an out of control carnival train. This piece has some small melodic motifs that hold the solo sections together. This is the quirkiest and most unique of the tracks, as if the best jam band at Bonnaroo said "Ok, now that we've rocked your sox, now we're going to REALLY go crazy."

4. Storm Bird Storm Dreamer - the groove on this song is provided by a very fast strummed acoustic guitar that continues with little variation for 12 minutes. (I can't imagine the muscle fatigue this must have caused.) This constant allows for some of the widest excursions and improvisation on the album. Wild proggy key tones, soaring violin lines, and rapid walking bass solos over the rhythm bed which includes some nice tribal-tinged drumming. One of my favorites of the album.

5. Sono-bank - Starts with another clean guitar funk riff which quickly morphs into a much more complex, somewhat polyrhythmic base track. By two minutes in, the piece is very free form while still maintaining its constant, fast pulse. Again, this anchor is what makes these wild experimentations work for me. Similar pieces by other bands that float without real time are just too chaotic for me. This is a bit overlong to be sure, but if you're familiar with instrumental space jams, this won't bother too much.

6. Old Blind Cat - Opens in typical space-jam echoes before a blue-grassy fiddle over tabla!! established the groove. Along with chanting and slide guitar, this song finishes the album on a quirky happy note.

Bottom line...this ain't Zeuhl but it's really good. It's not the most ambitious work, but it does what it attempts to do very well. 3.5 stars rounded up for energy. For fans of jazz-fusion, space rock, Krautrock, and trippy fun.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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