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Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit III - Récit CD (album) cover


Bondage Fruit



3.85 | 45 ratings

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3 stars I don't get Japanese Zeuhl. I get French Zeuhl, Belgian Avant Garde, UK Rock-in-Opposition, Scandanavian Symphonic and Death Metal, Dutch Neo Prog, Krautrock and Berlin School Electronic, Polish Heavy Prog. I even think I get Rock Progressive Italiano, but I don't get Japanese Zeuhl. I understand that the Japanese are masters of imitation--that they are even capable of taking previously defined forms and elevating them in terms of precision with their virtuoso mastery of their instruments. But I don't get how Japanese bands like Happy Family, Koenji Hyakkei, Ruins, and these guys, Bondage Fruit, fit into the Zeuhl scene. I mean, is there a Japanese translation of Kobaïan? a blood/DNA connection to Egyptian king Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré? a notorized endorsement from Camp Vander?

1. "Odd-job" (11:40) opens like a ROLLING STONES sound check, sounds, pacing, rhythms, and even riffs sound as if they come straight from some Stones song(s). (It turns out that the song may have been recorded in front of a live audience anyway!) When things breakdown into quietude in the third minute, even the vibes seem to remind us that this is a "déjà vu" type of moment as he plays the famous "Twilight Zone" theme riff--which is later picked up and carried by the violinist. As far as I can tell, this is the strongest link to a structural thread that the song has (aside from the drummer's fairly faithful attention to carrying forward a beat on the "ride" or "swish" cymbal). More old 60s early blues-rock riffs are introduced and toyed with over the second half of the song with little effect in inspiring a whole-band ethic until, finally, at the end of the ninth minute, something clicks (sparked by Katsui vocalise?) and everyone starts to really jam--coherently and cohesively. It's truly magical, but really? Nine minutes of shit to get to this point? Have you ever heard of "practice"? or editing? Can't the drummer and bass player fly all-out like that all the time? (15/20)

2. "Kagee Ga Kieru" (8:18) opens with some very sensitive, melodic, and careful play from vibes, violin, electric guitar, and the occasional bass note. It's beautiful even if it does sound like a ROY BUCHANAN or JEFF BECK piece. And all band members are on the same page--playing what constitutes a loose, contrived weave. Even when drummer Okabe Youichi enters in the fifth minute he is restrained and delicate. (14/15)

3. "Shortwave From Outer Space" (2:52) is a contrived construct to fabricate exactly what the title says it is. Keys, electronics, percussives. I have to admit: it's pretty good. (5/5)

4. Frost And Fire (12:32) opens at a gallop (the drumming literally sounds/feels like a horse's hoofbeats at a running gallop). In the third minute Kido Natsuki's guitar and Katsui Yuji's violin synchronize (bass is mixed way in the background) and mirror one another in trampsing through some Fripp-McLaughlin-like scales of chromatic dissonance. In the third minute the duet becomes a duel as violin drops out and searing guitar surges forward. Very Mahavishnu-like until he starts playing chords, but mostly he's playing single-note runs at breakneck speeds. Six minutes into the song, the guitar solo stops, Kido pairs up again with the violin, until Katsui breaks free to solo over the bare-bones help of Okabe Youichi and Takara Kuimiko's percussion play. Starting out slow, even melodically, Katsui builds and shifts gears as the crazy guitar strumming and percussion play provide the impetus for what becomes an almost deranged solo. Pretty cool. (I still don't get how or why this is "Zeuhl.") The two come back together at the very end to punch and drop dead. (Crowd clapping at the end! WTF?) (8.5/10)

5. "Récit" (28:19) opens with some guitar riffs from YES's song, "Close to the Edge," played over electronic chirping bird sounds. Violin then takes the next shot, playing some Mahavishnu Orchestra-like riffs before the whole band engages in the third minute. As the title suggests, perhaps this song is merely a clever merging of the recitation of many of the most famous or impressive riffs and motifs from the "classic era" of progressive rock music. I cannot name them all, but each individual melodic riff put before the drums and Zeuhlish bass by the guitar, vibes, and/or violin seem so familiar that I feel guilty for not being able to name them immediately. The drum work, once it has begun, remains fairly constant in its breakneck, KEITH MOON-like pace and busy- ness. The other instrumentalists have merely to play whatever they wish--and they do, now mixing separate riffs as if standing alone with the drummer, oblivious to the other band members. I suppose some might find this entertaining, even an exciting intellectual challenge (to solve the "name that tune" mystery puzzle pieces), but I am not of this group. The test for me would be to see the band "recite" this song in full replication in a live setting. (Much of it seems as if it could have been improvised and would, therefore, be quite difficult to replicate. Ever.) Somewhere in the twelfth minute the sound engineer is suddenly called out of the sound booth. Seeing no reason to continue, the band drop their instruments and head off to the lunch room, Thus, around the 13:00 mark we, the listener, are treated to a spacious reprieve as all band members walk out of the studio for their lunch break leaving only vibes player Takara Kuimiko alone with the admonishment, "You need to practice!" After their bento boxes have been emptied, guitarist Kido Natsuki and violinist Katsui Yuji return to tune their instruments while bassist Ohtsubo Hirohiko takes extra time to get out his double bass--which he, likewise, has to tune. All of this, of course, is still being recorded as the sound engineer had to go get take out and forgot to push "pause" on the console. Drummer Okabe Youichi has to eat twice as much as the others as he is expending many more calories than the others, but eventually, in the eighteenth minute, he, too, returns and begins tuning and adjusting his instrument. Somewhere in the twenty-first minute the engineer returns so the band members start to jam just to let him thing that they've been working hard. The odd thing is--and this really surprises the band--is this time it really works! The whole "Close to the Edge" riff jam thing finally comes together into an interactive, full-band explosion. But, then, after about five minutes of that, the band has had enough and try to shut it down, but, as most musicians are rather hard-headed, they can't decide who gets to have the last word so they're all left there standing as the feedback from the amps and monitors slowly decay and fade. (45/60)

6. Kinzoku No Taiji (Live *) (8:39) opens as the whole band, Takara Kuimiko on vibes, bursts into form and function. Bass lines from Ohtsubo Hirohiko are flowing like machine gun fire, the violin sounds as if it's going to start smoking, while Kido Natsuki restrains himself (as long as he can) to wild flailing chord play. After five minutes of "holding space" for others, he can no longer restrain himself, joins the fray of soloists, gradually pushing Katsui Yuji out of the soundscape (he tries to re-approach several times but is thwarted each time--the third time by the vibes!) Now, this, might qualify as Zeuhl--though Mahavishnu Jazz Fusion is more like how I'd describe it. Special shout out: Well done, drummer Okabe Youichi! (20/20)

3.5 stars; an unusual album of Mahavishnu Orchestra-like jazz fusion. The songs often have trouble coming together--seemed improvised--as might give reason to doubt the truth that this was released under the auspices of being a studio album when all but two of the songs have audience clapping at the end. I rate it up for the high amusement factor.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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