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Bondage Fruit - Bondage Fruit II CD (album) cover


Bondage Fruit



4.31 | 66 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Tokyo based BONDAGE FRUIT joined the ranks with Tatsuya Yoshida's Ruins project by adopting the Magma inspired zeuhl rhythms of Christian Vander's creation and used them as a canvas to paint upon with rich vivid colors. The self-titled debut album emerged in 1994 only after a stable lineup formed the year before. The roots of the band actually dated back to 1980 when Yuji Katsui formed the precursor band Deforme. With the debut album BONDAGE FRUIT displayed a more energetic and substantially varied mix of styles that drifted in and out over the rhythmic zeuhl underpinnings that included not only jazz and folk elements but also dished out episodes of serious avant-prog angularity. The style of zeuhl is characterized primarily by two key factors. One is a martial rhythmic drive mostly driven by the backbone of a virtuosic skilled drummer and by ethereal vocals that more often than not convey shades of color rather than meaning, mostly performed by female divas.

BONDAGE FRUIT exhibited all the required elements for a classic zeuhl band with virtuoso drummer Okabe Youichi and the vocal combo of Aki Kubota and Saga Yuki. On the debut Yuki was only a secondary vocalist with Kubota performing the lion's share of vocal duties but before the second album simply titled BONDAGE FRUIT II, Aki departed and left Saga Yuki as the primary vocal goddess to deliver all those divaliscious utterances. She was joined by the addition of Yen Chang and together they are pure magic. The rest of the noisemaking cast which included Kido Natsuki (guitar, organ), Katsui Yuji (violin), Ohtsubo Hirohiko (bass) and Takara Kuimiko (vibraphone, marimba, percussion, piano) remained and thus this second offering from one of Japan's premier punk infused jazzy-zeuhl fusion bands and BONDAGE FRUIT II takes all the excessive eccentricities of the debut and ramps them up several notches. The results of which offer one of the most creative and energetic displays of the entire zeuhl genre.

Japanese bands have always excelled at incorporating noisy punk infused guitar riffing and nowhere is this so perfectly executed than on the second installment of the BONDAGE FRUIT show. As with all great masterpieces of avant-rock, BONDAGE FRUIT II manages to create enough variety to keep your interest but also doesn't delve so far out into the experimental soundscapes as to create an unfocused album. While the tracks display a diverse run of differing tones, timbres and dynamics, a few factors offer a cohesiveness that keeps this second album humming along without skipping a beat. The martial rhythmic drive is impeccable. Youichi displays a wide range of drumming skills as he can nail the simplest primitive beats but likewise can explode into a fury of bombastic jazzed out complexities that could be heard in the most hardcore tech death metal bands. The tracks all have instantly addictive melodies that often remind me of the Canterbury Scene particularly from the Northettes on the Hatfield & The North albums.

BONDAGE FRUIT II exploits the contrasts more effectively than the debut. Beautiful melodies are in harmony with heavy dissonant guitar feedback, echoey funky chords and jazz-fusion keyboard styles from the Herbie Hancock playbook. The playful nature of the music finds many time signature gymnastics such as the wild displays on 'Kodomo No Guntai' which finds lengthy examples of instruments falling in and out of sync while avant-prog angularities decorate the steady beat that decays into sophisticated chaos yet somehow an underpinning of rhythm successfully keeps everything connected. This really is an amazing display of Japanese noise rock at its absolute best. Everything about this album works on every level and exudes an energy and excitement throughout its entirety. You know you got a winner if you want to hear the album again after you've just heard it. BONDAGE FRUIT would go through even more drastic changes as both Yuki and Chang would leave after this album. The band would become more experimental and weird but for this brief moment managed to perfectly maintain the balance between that magical emotional connection and the unhinged avant-garde.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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