Big Shoes

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Guitarist Ron Anderson playing with the Japanese avant-prog-core duo Ruins? That's just too many mad cooks working on the same stew! The things they share are obvious on paper: fast-paced, ultra-complex writing paired to a sense of derision and musical farce. The recorded results provide all that and more, but on first listen Big Shoes comes through as a Ruins album, first and foremost. Even the pieces written by Anderson sound less his than pure Ruins. It's after a few listens that you start noticing his favorite chord changes and his rhythmical complexities -- which are different than Tatsuya Yoshida's madcap paradiddles. The main set consists of 16 tracks between 40 seconds and five minutes in duration. A few improvisations open up some space for Anderson's trumpet calls, offering short respites from the highly organized (and fast!) clatter of the compositions. Anderson's "What Do You Say?" and "Marionnette de Stravinsky" provide highlights, along with Yoshida's "L.T.A. Ketsuno Ana" (introduced by a vocal a cappella trio, oui madame) and the improv "Heavy Metal Syndicate" (what, this isn't a song?). The pseudocloser, "Sunset Through the Trees," adds an American garage rock feel to the Ruins' mind-boggling riffs. The disc ends on two bonus tracks, slightly longer live improvisations with singer Haco. Less focused and tentative-sounding, they still pack quite a punch, although Haco's squeals never really set in.

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