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Ruins - Tohjinbo (with Derek Bailey) CD (album) cover





3.44 | 7 ratings

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4 stars The second Ruins/Bailey encounter took place in April 1997. Ruins played in London and were joined Bailey for a set of improvised music, and this studio recording was made a day or so later. The previous Derek & the Ruins album, Saisoro, was shaped largely by Bailey's free jazz stylings, but this album is more of an equal collaboration. This is partly down to Ruins' (then) new bassist, Sasaki Hisashi, a remarkably gifted player for whom Yoshida was writing increasingly complex compositions that had all the abrupt shifts of rhythm, melody and timbre that occur in free improvisation. This, plus the fact that they had also just played onstage together, appears to have made the musicians a little more comfortable with each other.

In addition to being a rather more assured piece of work, it's also an album of greater contrasts than previously; on some tracks, Bailey plays with the tone and attack of a rock guitarist, albeit with radically different phrasing, and at these points (for example Nibbimco) they call to mind that other great avant-rock power trio, Massacre. Yoshida's vocal interjections are less frequent than on Saisoro, but when they do occur they are very much a part of the music rather than an afterthought. There's also more space in many of these pieces - Naffrott is a quiet, low key exploration that is all the more effective for being followed by the frantic Vanachitta. Ruins no longer feel that they have to fill every available space with sound, and Bailey seems equally happy following their ever changing rhythms or leading from the front. Sasaki Hisashi explores the full range of his (6 string?) bass as he did with Ruins, alternating between low end rumbles to complement Yoshida's drumming and fluid high end playing acting as a second lead guitar. Yoshida's drumming is as masterful and powerful as ever, and working with Bailey seems to have made him even more adventurous than usual.

Tohjinbo is very much about free improvisation, and not appreciably more accessible than Saisoro, but the accent on this album is closer to rock than to free jazz. Free improvisation is notoriously difficult listening, and is a rarity in rock music, even in the RIO/Avant prog field. This album is a good place to start - recommended to lovers of experimental music and Ruins fans.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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