There's always something big to be expected from Japan's powerful Ruins. The bass and drum combo take a grandiose approach to a simple line-up and make odd noise in the tradition of the progressive rock of the seventies. Their ability to start and stop and seamlessly shift from one riff to another has garnered them attention from several music communities. Music snobs admire their technical virtuosity; freak-rock and jam band fans find their records suitable soundtracks to LSD trips; experimental fans rank them with the finest of adventurers. Their records have been released on legendary label, Shimmy Disc as well as John Zorn's Tzadik. Tzomborgha, their latest release, is freshly released on Mike Patton's Ipecac making a welcome addition to the label's eclectic and exciting artists.
As always, these two squeeze notes and beats into every conceivable corner and each song sounds more like an extension of the last. This is a record to be savored from beginning to end, more like a symphony than a rock album. It is that and a lot more. Part classical precision, part oddball noodling, the record goes in a million places always returning to the delightful origin. These compositions are cyclical, dense, and astounding. Listening to Ruins one can hear not only the Black Sabbath and Mahavishnu Orchestra influences (which they pay tribute to on the last two tracks of Tzomborgha,) but also Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Phillip Glass, George Clinton, and Bella Bartok. This is not to say that their music resembles these influences. It does and it does not. It is everything and nothing all at once. Ruins could just as easily be the product of Mozart's most intriguing composition as the first cave man beating two rocks together.
Strange and beautiful, Tzomborgha is a wonderful addition to the Ruins' cannon and a record that evidences a powerful pair of musicians playing at the top of their game. As the year winds down,Tzomborgha stands as one of the most interesting releases of 2002. There truly is nothing else like it.