Music / CD Reviews

Ruins Alone "Ruins Alone"

by Shawn Despres

Special To The Japan Times

Widely recognized as one of the most innovative drummers in the Japanese underground music scene, Tatsuya Yoshida spent nearly two decades playing as part of the bass and drums duo, Ruins. During his time in the group, Yoshida worked with four different bassists. After his last bassist split in 2003, Yoshida decided to turn Ruins into a one-man band that he fittingly called Ruins Alone. With Yoshida playing drums and a sampler providing the bass lines and other instrumentation, Ruins Alone has toured throughout Japan, North America, Europe and Australia.

The ambitious Yoshida offers up two-dozen tracks on his eponymous debut as Ruins Alone. Tightly packed with countless twists and turns, the experimental prog-rock opener “Jemvlesqapp” establishes from the start that, like most of Yoshida’s praised back catalog, this isn’t a disc that can be quickly digested. Using a computer to create bass, piano, horns and electronic sounds to accompany his often ballistic drumming, there is an abundance of interesting, dynamic material on “Ruins Alone” to keep both new listeners and Yoshida’s faithful cult following entertained through multiple plays. “Ixzelgriver” jumps between being a spastic piece of digital hardcore with rapid-fire gibberish singing to a trippy goth cut. “Baxcemgilasz” has Yoshida crooning in a great high-pitched, almost operatic voice over dramatic, whacked-out art-rock rhythms. “Obthecklomtz” meshes vintage video-game-styled blips with dark noise music and eerie chanted vocals, while Yoshida expands his diverse sonic palette ever further late in the album with the stripped-down, psych-folk number “Notturuno.”

Ruins Alone plays at Thumbs Up in Yokohama on Dec. 8 (7:30 p.m.; ¥2,500 in adv.; [045] 314-8705). For more information, visit