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Bondage Fruit


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Bondage Fruit Bondage Fruit IV album cover
3.47 | 53 ratings | 6 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Minus One (6:46)
2. Prayer (9:18)
3. Screen Game (acoustic) (5:16)
4. Storm Bird Storm Dreamer (11:54)
5. Sono-bank (19:08)
6. Old Blind Cat (4:47)

Total Time: 57:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Kido Natsuki / guitar, synth, co-producer
- Katsui Yuji / vocals, violin, co-producer
- Ohtsubo Hirohiko / bass
- Takara Kumiko / vibraphone, percussion, organ
- Okabe Youichi / percussion, trap drum

Releases information

Artwork: Workshy-Oishi

CD Maboroshi No Sekai ‎- MABO-010 (1999, Japan)
CD Musea ‎- GA 8627.AR (1999, France)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to tapfret for the last updates
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BONDAGE FRUIT Bondage Fruit IV ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BONDAGE FRUIT Bondage Fruit IV reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars 5 for 4.

In the early part of the 21st century, Japan is making a serious run at Italy and Sweden for my favorite sources of new music. Bondage Fruit is the clear flagship for that run. One of the few bands, in my opinion, that has yet to put out a questionable effort. Their fourth album may in fact be their best.

Known as a key piece in the Japanese Zeuhl movement for their earlier works, BF has strayed from those comparisons after dropping their vocalists. Being a fan of instrumental music, I am generally not hurt by such a move. But BF's vocalists were basically instruments rather than a source of prose. I was admittedly disappointed when I learned of their departure. But one listen of BF-IV indicated a stylistic shift that would not accommodate vocals. The underlying punkiness that coursed through eastern influenced rock of the first 2 albums had begun to fade with BF-III and all but disappeared with IV. The band now incorporates a more Westernized approach. By Westernized I mean adaptations of more blues oriented riffs, country influence and psychedelia.

The structure of the album is a masterfully constructed roller coaster of grand excitement and laid back haze. The opener, Minus One, is a percussive blast through abrupt starts and stops with funky fat guitar tones from Kido Natsuki. Prayer is reminiscent of the musical stylings of the background of a '70's cop drama. Screen Game is like a thrashing, toe-tapping bluegrass number that you can't help but smile at. Precision slop with twisted slide guitar and wailing fiddle. Storm Bird, Storm Dreamer slows the pace back down for all but Natsuki, who maintains a rapid shuffle strum throughout this soft ambient piece. Yuji provides an enchanting melody on violin. Sono-Bank is a 19 minute frantic blast of psychotic wah guitar and multi-percussion outrageousness. Old Blind Cat is a cute little song that sounds like continental drift had suddenly thrust Louisiana into India.

This is one of the finest, most tasteful and eclectic blends of international style ever created. A high 5 stars, absolutely essential.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm not really sure why this is categorized as Zeuhl (especially as GUAPO is not). To me this is Avante garde, at times free form jazz and even psychedic jazz rock. Two of the first three songs (bookending a quite Interesting version of The BEATLES' "Norwegian Wood" [7/10]) (6/10 each) are quite free flowing and incorporate a lot of seemingly random and improvised soloing from a plethora of instruments and effects. Unfortunately, this is just too much cacophony and screaming noise for my tastes, thank you very much. This isn't even cognitive dissonance, it's acid trip or Krautrock dissonance!

My favorite song is the one with the most structure, "Storm Bird, Storm Dreamer" (9/10). It's like hearing a jam war between 70s SANTANA and DJAM KARET. Many interesting sounds (Frippertronics, 'humpback bass,' TRAFFIC-like lyricon?or is it J-LP electric violin?, TANGERINE DREAM synth waves and arpeggios, and more). Great jam.

The wild and unmelodious "Sono-bank" (6/10) reminds me so much of TODD RUNDGREN's 36-minute "Treatise on Cosmic Fire" from 1975's Initiation. I'll take Todd. Sorry.

A good album, not necessarily recommended for all. If you like jam bands and/or free form jazz (not quite Ornette Coleman), then, by all means, try it, you might like it.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars IV-gettable

I hold Bondage Fruit's fourth album (with a Chicago-esque naming scheme) in the same regard as Ahvak's lone album; avant-garde, musically sound, does everything correctly in the ''Wow, I'm very impressed'' department, yet it is lacking in warmth and devoid of anything memorable. Everything the band does in the overall musicality is wondrous, but you run across albums at times where the parts don't really add up to anything.

Actually, there is one hitch that BONDAGE FRUIT IV offers that gives it uniqueness; it's an RIO/Zeuhl album that got stuck in Louisiana for a couple of songs. I can point out the beginning of ''Screen Game'' have a unique slide guitar sound but veers off into psych rock afterwards and the raga-country of ''Old Blind Cat''. My big problem is that the themes all around are nice, but are just meh after a few minutes because the development isn't engaging. Bondage Fruit are missing some intangibles of long form jamming on this record, specifically in the longer tracks.

A quick few words about the longer numbers: ''Storm Bird, Storm Dreamer'' sounds like the guitarist and drummer laid down a basic track and the other members of the band overdubbed noodling over the top; noodling that sometimes comes up with a theme, but a lot of times sounds like bad, unplanned improvising. ''Sono Bank'' has a nice start, but it sounds like no one seems to know what to do in terms of developing the jam leaving it rather unfocused and hard to sit through (especially at nineteen minutes).

Yes, I understand that BONDAGE FRUIT IV is wacky, experimental and ''out there'', but those qualities alone a good album do not make. I would reward the album more if I thought that the experimentalism was anywhere enjoyable. There are better Zeuhl, experimental and psych-jamming releases out there, and I would only recommend this album to anyone that wants to hear bluegrass pop up in a Zeuhl album.

Review by Negoba
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.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Bondage Fruit changed up their sound once again on this fourth album, taking all-instrumental route and injecting their music with influences ranging from funk to bluegrass to produce a deliriously avant-garde interpretation of the musical world. If P-Funk and the Rolling Stones got together to make a zeuhl album, perhaps the end results would sound something like this - but probably not, because whilst that sort of combination suggests a disjointed mess, somehow Bondage Fruit are able to make their bizarre juxtapositions of genres make some sort of cohesive sense.

At this point, I hesitate to call Bondage Fruit a zeuhl unit - they're way off in their own sonic universe which has very little precedent. At the same time, much like Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning - another avant-prog piece which represents the band in question at their most experimental - I find that it leaves me cold all too often. It's technically interesting and is worth at least one listen on that strength alone, but it doesn't have much staying power, the compositions tending to be dry and having little emotional connection. Part of the problem of jamming together genres quite as diverse as those they play around with here is that if you aren't careful you end up with the musical equivalent of constructing a sentence by selecting random words from a bunch of different languages - yes, it's technically interesting, and if you're really clever you can make the resulting sentence kind of look like it makes some sort of grammatical sense, but it's actually gibberish and there's no deeper meaning to it.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Of the six albums I own by this band(I don't have the compilation record) this comes dead last and is the only sub 4 star album in my opinion. The next one "Skin" is next lowest but I really give them a lot of credit for doing such a minimalistic album when they are know for being anything but that. And it did grow on me to a low 4 star recording. There's a couple of really good tracks on here in "Prayer" and Storm Bird Storm Dreamer" but just too much annoying experimental and repetitive stuff for my tastes overall.

"Minus One" is led by the guitar, drums and bass early on and this isn't exactly melodic as vibes join in. Different is the word I suppose. Violin after a minute. Lots of percussion too as this plays out. A calm as cymbals clash with drums as the guitar and bass return. This is better than the first part at least. Percussion and vibes return as well.

"Prayer" is sparse to begin with as sounds come and go with plenty of space. The guitar starts to lead playing slowly, bass too. It's moving now after 3 minutes. Violin 4 minutes in as it builds then the drums kick in as the tempo picks up. Some nice guitar here. It settles right back at 5 minutes with bass and drums but the guitar is back quickly. Vibes before 6 minutes.

"Screen Game(Acoustic)" has this extremely bluesy guitar with lots of bass and drums. Some crazy synths too along with organ. A bit of a mess to be honest. "Storm Bird Storm Dreamer" has this loud atmosphere to start that sounds pretty cool. The guitar comes in along with some drums, bass and synths. The wind starts to blow after 4 minutes followed by percussion and that relentless guitar melody. Soon other sounds join in. I like this one a lot. The violin starts to solo over top to the end.

"Sono-Bank" is the over 19 minute epic with fast paced guitar to start as bass and synths join in. Quite an experimental suite this one. Violin around 5 minutes but not for long as the guitar starts to make some noise over the powerful soundscape. Just plain annoying 11 minutes in. A calm 15 minutes in but plenty of atmosphere. The guitar comes in ripping it up before 16 minutes like the intro. "Old Blind Cat" ends it with spacey synths to start as violin and drums take over. Not a fan of this one either. Not a good way to close the album with those two tracks in my opinion.

This Japanese band has put out some incredible albums over the years but this isn't one of them.

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