Derek and the Ruins


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Okay, so it's a strange teamup: Derek Bailey, the grizzled veteran of free-improv guitar, and the Ruins, a Japanese bass-drums duo who usually play rock & roll and had never improvised in the studio before this meeting. It may have been lunacy, but it was lunacy of the inspired kind; Yoshida Tatsuya's frenetic-but-solid drumming and creepy, otherworldly vocals give Bailey a lot to react to, and bassist Masuda Ryuishi runs along next to him with infectious glee, frequently playing in the upper registers and sounding like a twin guitar. The disc opens with the rocking "Yagimbo" and then moves into a more impressionistic, almost pointillistic mode, with Tatsuya muttering, yammering and crooning while Bailey makes his guitar sound like a robot being drawn and quartered. Excellent. Then it gets better. "Odangdoh" is fractured and jerky in a surprisingly cool way, while "Manugan Melpp" (were the titles improvised, too?) is beautiful in a surprisingly fractured and jerky way. In fact, the key adjectives for the album as a whole may be "surprising," "beautiful," "fractured" and "jerky." Highly recommended, as long as you don't have a headache or a cat.

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