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SYMPHONICA

Ruins

Zeuhl


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progmonster
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With friends of Koenji Hyakkei and Bondage Fruit, Tatsuya Yoshida opens the door to his bass/drum duet for a rendition close to the spirit of ...Koenji Hyakkei ! Kenichi's keyboard parts add the pompous symphonic feel that any die hard fan of vintage keyboard eccentries will dare to love. Melting with the overall bombasting sound of the super duo, Ruins takes the opportunity to explore past compositions wich brings out to light - at last - their obvious Magma influence. For proggers, "Symphonica" is a perfect introduction to Ruins' universe. For Ruins' fans, "Symphonica" is a perfect transition to zeuhl approach.

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Send comments to progmonster (BETA) | Report this review (#27023)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unlike their two previous albums, RUINSs' "Symphonica" is an accesssible disc. In "hyderomastgroningem", it's incredible how much noisy a duet bass/drums can be and fill the musical space the way they do, it's even worse in "Refusal fossils" as they are more numerous ! "Symphonica" is IMHO the most Zeuhl and the most melodic of all albums released by this band, with its female and male voices, and its keyboard choirs as epileptical as virtuosic. But you have to care with the word Zeuhl... If you had to define RUINSs' music, it would be rather "trash-punk-destroy Zeuhl". But these guys, when they calm down and when the balance between violent noise and charming melodies settles, produce something of high quality. "Symphonica" is a must-have for anyone who likes prog, Zeuhl or music in short. The beauty of a growing maturity

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Send comments to Tauhd Za´a (BETA) | Report this review (#27024)
Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Symphonica sees Ruins mainman Yoshida Tatsuya revisiting a selection of pieces from the notorious bass and drums duo's first decade or so of existence and reworking them with an expanded line up, including a keyboard player and two female vocalists. The keyboard player also plays in another of Yoshida's bands, Koenji Hyaekki, which he describes as the Japanese Magma, while the bass duties are in the extremely capable hands of Sasaki Hisashi, Ruins' fourth bassist and Yoshida's best sparring partner to date. The idea may seem a little strange, given that Ruins' manic sound owes at least as much to hardcore punk as to prog, but from the outset Yoshida has written all of Ruins' pieces as musical scores, and this selection demonstrates just how strong his compositional gift is.

Symphonica is a highly apt title for this collection, as keyboard man Oguchi Kenichi adds layers of vintage organ and synthesiser sounds to Yoshida's compositions - where Magma's defining keyboard sound was jazzy Fender Rhodes piano, this album's keyboard sounds mainly recall the symphonic maestros of the 70s - think Emerson, Wakeman, Banks and Bardens and you'll have a good idea of the sound (though not necessarily the style). The pieces themselves are mostly taken at a slower tempo and are extended, although they are largely faithful to the original scores. The most radically altered piece is probably Infect, from the first Ruins album. Here it lasts almost twice as long as the original, and the introduction is played on a church organ. The original was one of Ruins slower pieces, and here it is slowed down further with a lengthy duet between Yoshida and one of the female vocalists, underpinned by some discreet keyboards. This is possibly the most Zeuhl moment in the whole collection, and transforms what was a low pitched, threatening rumble into a thing of exotic alien beauty. Elsewhere the insanely catchy riff of Praha in Spring gives Kenichi the opportunity to lay down a high speed synth line that would give Emerson a run for his money, while the female vocalists do a good job of replicating Stella Vander and her angelic choir.

Symphonica blends Zeuhl and symphonic prog sounds in the way that Machine and the Synergetic Nuts blend fusion and Canterbury sounds, and should appeal to anyone who enjoys Japanese prog. Some of Ruins' characteristic idiosyncracies are still present - compositions are full of unexpected twists and turns, while the time signature rarely stays constant for more than half a dozen bars - but this is the Ruins album that you can play without clearing the room in 20 seconds flat. If you've ever wanted to dip a toe into the amazing Japanese prog scene, this is an excellent place to start.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#47087)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the best albums I've heard and good start for exploring Ruins. This album really surprises you. Genious must have made this. Very dynamic. Bass-drum-working kicks ass, and the album is a bit symphonic by letting you wait and then crash your head, time after time. There is punk spirit - shocking repeating, but I think it mostly promotes the describing of neurotic world, or something (inflexible japan people:) ) - and the sound isn't nasty punk but clear. In addition to the male vocals, female vocals are very dramatic and beautiful. To people who think zeuhl is too weird or depressing, try listening "Praha In Spring". Though all the songs are good, if listener is liking the mood.

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Send comments to progressive (BETA) | Report this review (#76898)
Posted Tuesday, May 02, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If you want to check out this amazing band then this might be the place to start. Pretty much all of RUINS other releases feature the duo of drums and bass only, where they create frantic, chaotic, noisy and complex music. This one is more ear friendly shall we say, and even at that this is for the adventerous. If your a Zeuhl fan I think you will like this one. What makes this more accessible then their others is the addition of Oguchi Kenichi from KENSO on keys, organ and mellotron. Oguchi would go on to play on Yoshida's other band KOENJIHYAKKEI's "Nivraym" record. Two female singers are added as well including Kubota Aki who sang and played keys on KOENJIHYAKKEI's first two albums.The vocals both male and female are so impressive.

"Thebes" opens with male vocals as female vocals lend support. This is dark and heavy. The mellotron is such a highlight on this song both before 3 minutes and after 4 1/2 minutes especially. There is some speaking and yelling at times on this track. "Graviyaunosch" features a rapid fire drums and keyboard melody. Impressive. Female vocal melodies arrive followed by male vocals in this high speed and chaotic affair. Nice organ solo after 5 minutes. "Big Head" opens with male and female vocals singing the same line over and over. Some crazy drumming follows accompanied by organ. Mellotron 2 minutes in. A calm after 3 minutes that continues for 3 minutes more as tasteful female vocals lead the way. Great passage. The intensity returns before this one ends.

"Praha In Spring" is the closest track to being symphonic. The keys are such a highlight. Dual vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. The keys sound like Banks is playing them, very GENESIS sounding. The male vocals are incredible. This song is a nice break actually. "Thrive" sounds like we are listening to a conversation or something. People speaking anyway. Heavy drums and bass. A female vocal melody arrives before 2 minutes followed by an organ melody. Uptempo craziness after 4 minutes. "Infect" opens with organ and Zeuhl-like vocal melodies.The female vocals are excellent on this track. A strange section after 4 minutes with talking and fooling around. Vocal-wise it's kind of cool. A full sound is back 6 minutes in. Lots of keys swirling about as drums pound and dual vocals sing. "Brixon Varromiks" has a nice dark and heavy sound. The drumming is fantastic ! Organ helps out. Female vocals 1 1/2 minutes in as the song calms down. It's still dark though. The song picks up 3 minutes briefly before we get back the slow, heavy melody. The tempo continues to shift. "Bliezzaning Moltz" features female spoken vocals as drums, bass, organ and synths play out. It does become a vocal track before returning to the spoken words.

Once I got used to their sound I really fell for this record. Easily a 4 star record with a warning label attached.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#153312)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars In the interest of fairness it should be noted that I own a grand total of three Zeuhl records, and my knowledge of the genre is pretty much limited to what I know about the two bands who made those albums. That said, I was interested in this one primarily because I had read it is a symphonic representation of the band’s earlier, more primitive music.

Well I don’t know anything about their earlier music, but a quick scan through their discography confirms these are remade songs and all of them are longer, and in some cases considerably longer, than the originals. Just as an example “Infect” ran five minutes-plus and was made up only of drum, bass and vocal parts when it first released in 1988, while the version in this album runs well over ten minutes and includes piano and other keyboards, at least three vocalists including one with operatic range, and a six-string bass.

Like I said, I’m not a big Zeuhl fan, but as far as the concept of injecting symphonic prog-like keyboards into that primal sound, I think the result was mixed. On the opening track “Thebes” and “Graviyaunosch”, I think this works quite well. The keyboards (and especially organ) complement the turgid bass/drum onslaught and give those songs some range and depth of emotion.

But elsewhere, and particularly with “Brixon Varromiks” and “Bliezzaning Moltz” the irregular timing and lack of western song structure cause the keyboards to end up sounding like just utter noise. I wonder if a brass instrument might have worked better on those songs simply because of the lack of regular, metered structure in them. Not sure, I’m not a musician – I just know the piano and organ do not seem to fit in those compositions at all.

The others are a mixed bag. The lengthy “Infect” starts off with stilting organ bleats which also show up throughout, but this song seems to be more about the vocals so the instruments aren’t playing anything more than a minor supporting role anyway. “Big Head” with its spoken/sung male vocals and weird keyboard fingering ends up sounding more like the B52s doing a Zappa cover. And the vocals on “Praha in Spring” are similar, but here the keyboards dominate and are outstanding. I can here a Hammond, and am not sure what the other keyboard is but it fills the space for itself and also for what a guitar would/could have brought to the arrangement quite nicely. This is actually one of the more accessible Zeuhl tunes I’ve ever heard.

“Thrive” is similar to “Praha in Spring” except for the spoken/sung vocals around the three-minute mark. Also, there’s an organ riff in the second half of this song that totally reminds me of an almost identical one on the 2006 Proto-Kaw song “Osvaldo's Groceries”. Cherish that as well, since its probably the first and last time you’ll see a reference to a middle-aged American heavy/symphonic rock band in the context of a Japanese Zeuhl record. Go figure.

So I guess I had a little more to say about this record than I thought just a few minutes ago. It won’t make me run out and start stocking up on Zeuhl records, but I have to admit the net result of coupling keyboards to these complicated sounds is a fairly approachable album. I’d recommend this record to someone interesting in delving into the genre as a better introduction than something really hardcore like Magma’s ‘Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h’. With this one you’re more likely to try another Zeuhl record at some point, which is probably a good thing. Four stars and recommended in the ways I just said.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#176080)
Posted Friday, July 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Ever since their formation in 1985, Ruins have been a difficult act to follow with at least four different lineups spawning completely different sounds and styles. Therefore it was even more surprising when I saw this Yoshida Tatsuya-project being featured under the Zeuhl banner and after a bit research I was finally able to pinpoint this classification's origin to this particular release.

Together with Hatoba and Refusal Fossil, Symphonica features an occasional exploration of a full band sound that in most other cases is reduced to a power duo. The addition of a keyboards and 2 female vocalists created a completely different aura around the band's sound that can in fact be labeled as Zeuhl. Still, Yoshida Tatsuya isn't planning to limit his artistic vision to any specific genre or style meaning that there are quite a few moments of complete frenzy added into the mix!

Thebes kicks off the album with a definite tribute to Magma with haunting sounds of a keyboard and female vocalists paving the way for the rest of the band. The middle section of this 8 minute composition gets even more haunting with the keyboards now sounding almost identical to the sounds of Le Orme's dark masterpiece Felona E Sorona that transitions into a perfect conclusion. Graviyaunosch shifts in a more traditional Ruins direction although the addition of the keyboard sound does add a whole different mood to the track, this is especially notable towards the end where its sound completely dominates the performance.

Big Head seems like a mix between the Zeuhl flavored Thebes and Avant-Prog that was highlighted by Graviyaunosch. This time the keyboard sound is used more as an added effect than anything else, meaning that it blends in much better with the background environments by creating a very atmospheric second part of the composition. Praha In Spring is much shorter than its predecessors and offers a much more cheerful sound which does feel a bit out of place with the rest of album, but I'm sure that it was intentional on Yoshida Tatsuya's part.

Thrive is probably the most experimental piece out of the bunch that doesn't really add anything interesting to the mix, mostly because I'm not a big fan of the long improv-sounding keyboard solo spot that fuses the intro and outro sections together. The 10 minute long Infect is another return to Zeuhl music with a twist while Brixon Varromiks is another mix between the genres where slow Zeuhl sections are held together by fast-paced instrumental work. Bliezzaning Moltz ends the album on another highlight that is structured around a drum and bass groove.

Symphonica is a perfect introduction album to the crazy and sporadic mind of Yoshida Tatsuya. Still, if you're not sure whether you want to give Ruins a go then I suggest listening to the MP3 sample of Thebes that should definitely make any Zeuhl fan happy!

***** star songs: Thebes (7:39) Graviyaunosch (6:20) Bliezzaning Moltz (7:11)

**** star songs: Big Head (7:33) Praha In Spring (4:36) Infect (10:13) Brixon Varromiks (8:41)

*** star songs: Thrive (4:59)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#283471)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Symphonica' sounds like a more boisterous 'MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h' minus the brass. The drumming patterns are very similar, but what differentiates it from 'Magma' are the vocals and the choppy stop starts.

Ruins are far more aggressive in approach. In fact the whole album is far punchier than Magma. However this is nothing compared to the superb follow up band 'Koenjihyakkei' where Zeuhl is taken to it's extreme. I still prefer Magma for their altogether more Tuetonic darkness and sense of impending doom. Ruins are a bit more unhinged and wacky.

'Symphonica' has a brilliantly clear production and I don't have many complaints with this album other than the fact that it's a bit all over the place rambling from one tune to the next with no real destination in mind.

Play it to your neighbours who annoy you with noise at 2.00am - guaranteed, they'll shut the hell up.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#397576)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2011 | Review Permalink

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