Last month your head editor here went on a glorious three-week bender in Japan and you’ve guessed it – saw lots of awesome music. We’ll spend the next week dipping our toes into the various scenes brewing in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto – hope you enjoy!
Once the capital, Kyoto, the ‘thousand year city’ stands as a beautiful reminder of what the ‘old’ Japan made have felt like with a lot of its architecture (which I’ve been told was based off of the framework of Xi’an) still standing today (you won’t see many buildings above ten stories) and a sense of timeliness as one walks down every riverbank or back alley. However, Kyoto isn\’t just a hotbed for temples. The city also seems to be a breeding ground for venues and galleries. And when I saw the name Ruins – a name I’ve heard in many experimental circles before, I knew I had to capitalize on the opportunity to check out some legends.
The venue, Metro, located appropriately enough in the stairwell of a subway exit (making it somewhat of a chore to find from the outside) is a tight, yet efficient space, with a backroom for lockers, and a bar that presses up right against the stage (a definite plus for bartenders who want to enjoy the show).
The band – Ruins – kinda of a big deal in the avant garde scene since the early 1980s, more particularly the prog rock and jazz fusion scene – is made up of a drum and bass duo, spearheaded by its ‘wild at heart’ drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, whose operatic singing and octopus style drumming makes him a force to be reckon with. Alongside his bass partner in crime Masuda Ryuichi, the two created a world within itself – one full of beautiful harmonious insanity that left audiences in awe. Tomfoolery abound, but with a Zappa and Magma twisted professionalism that was simply a joy to watch.
If that wasn’t enough, the band brought out two other legends of the underground world for some more fun – former Acid Mother Temples member Atsushi Tsuyama and former Boredoms guitarist Yamamoto Seiichi. The two, who had previously collaborated with Ruins on Close to the RH Kiki (as Ruinzhatova) – a cosmic batshit crazy gathering of minds.
The four relived some of these experiments with the relish of teenagers, diving headfirst into the comical, technically thrilling noise rock mayhem. Strange indeed, but intoxicating all the same these cats are on their own wavelength and it was a honor to watch it unfold before our eyes and ears. It’s not often you get to see a bunch of noise veterans show you how it’s done. Sorry for lack of pictures or videos as I was told numerous times that photography was a no-no at the venue so besides a few ones snuck in I’ve got nothing. Hell of a ride Kyoto!