Chances are if you're a fan of the influential avant-garde sounds of Magma and their various Zeuhl inspired offshoots then you've probably come across the equally as eccentric sylings of Japanese outfit Ruins. Formed in the mid 80's and led by drummer Tatsuya Yoshida Ruins were highly influenced by their French predecessors, so much so that like Magma they invented their own language to accompany their unique style of music. Yoshida who has long been considered as an active force in the Japanese underground set up this Ruins side project Koenjihyakkei, who released their debut album Hundred Sights of Koenjii on God Mountain Records in Japan back in 1994. Now enlisitng Skin Graft Records, Yoshida not only remixed and remastered this reissue but he even re-recorded all of his drum parts as well.
On Hundred Sights Of Koenjii Yoshida who also handles vocals, keyboards and reeds in addition to drums, is joined by vocalist / keyboardist Kubota Aki, Sakamoto Kengo on vocals/ bass and Harada Jin on vocals and guitars. The music features a dizzying array of complex time changes that are propelled primarily by Yoshida's astounding drum work. The orchestral vocals as mentioned are sung / chanted in an unintelligible language which may or may not resemble Magma's Kobaïan dialect but it's never quite clear. Nevertheless it's the incredibly bizarre blending of musical styles which blur the lines between generes, along with the dynamic musicianship which will really capture the listeners attention here.
The band successfully navigates back and forth between lush, serene passages and jagged, molten bursts of intensity that will leave you shaking your head in utter amazement at how they're able to pull it off with such ease. Take for example the tracks "Ioss" and "Gepek" which on the surface may sound like utter cacophony, yet upon closer inspection it's more like controlled chaos as the musician's blaze through these intricate compositions with such fierce dedication. On the gorgeously layered choral voices and church style organ on "Zoltan" and the more buoyant, airy arrangements featured on both "Yagonahh", "Avedumma", and the final track "Sunna Zarioki", the band reveals a slightly different musical personality, but one which ultimately works just as well. Spacey prog influenced keyboards and intricate guitar work comes to the forefront as the rhythm's sound almost… polka-like if that makes any sense.
Hundred Sights Of Koenjii is definitely a multi-faceted journey into the unexpected and if you're at all a fan of the Zeul style 'ism's of Magma, Ruins etc… then this superb remaster should be a worthy addition to your collection.
2) Doi Doi
6) Ozone Fall
10) Sunna Zarioki