Review Summary: This is Drum & Bass3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Drummers have been the butt of jokes for generations. De facto metronomes who could be replaced with an 808 without anyone noticing, let alone caring.
Yet there have always been exceptions to the rule, players who are stand out members of bands rather than just the pendulum swinging in the background. Bozzio, Mayer, Rich, Weckl - all names that spring to mind when discussing the greats of popular rock and jazz music. These are forward thinking players who embody the bands they play in and whose influence upon music is unprecedented.
So imagine my surprise when I descended into a dank basement in Hackney and heard a drum performance that could easily brush sticks with any of the above. A performance so intense, so mesmerising that it ranks amongst the greatest concerts I’ve ever attended. Jaws dropped from the moment Tatsuya Yoshida picked up his sticks, staying stuck to the floor for a whole hour whilst the Ruins back catalogue was dissected, decomposed and blasted out with inhuman precision, the stage empty but for a drumkit and a sampler.
Rewind 10 years. Tatsuya Yoshida and Sasaki Hisashi are the final incarnation of Ruins. Mandala 2000 is the climax of a 15 year career spent making some of the most ridiculous music ever put to tape – the magnum opus of a drum & bass duo whose work still sounds progressive today despite being recorded a decade ago. Recorded live, this is as raw as music gets. To those unacquainted with this sound – imagine a stripped DFA 1979 with slit eyes OD’ing on speed.
Technicality is the order of the day – off kilter rhythms, crushing breakdowns, interweaving solos that rival anything the western prog school can offer up.
And the best thing about it all? A complete lack of pretentiousness that is so unbelievably refreshing it makes me smile every time another astounding aural meltdown is thrown into the mix without any hint of show or fanfare.
These are two guys who could run rings around most other musicians playing ‘technical’ music, yet play with the punk ethos that passion is of utmost importance;
a far step from the wanton self gratification of countless prog artists.
The drum & bass onslaught is spiced up by yelped and shouted Vanderesque nonsensical vocals and an occasional violin that strikes a powerful contrast to the lower frequencies that are the mainstay of this album. Takes some getting used to, but you really couldn’t have it any other way.
A number of interludes and quiet jams break up the frenetic pace every now and again, oases of calm to shelter in for a few precious seconds before the next stretch of elemental fury is braved. You’ll need ears of steel to survive this aural journey, but thankfully it is as rewarding as it is exhausting.
Highlights include a breathtaking mashup of countless classical pieces into a minute long piece that never fails to astound, new takes on old tunes and various improvised pieces that stand as a testament to the phenomenal abilities of the pair.
Put simply, this is as good as prog music gets.