Leave it to the Japanese to take any medium—comic books, film, rock—to its logical and extreme conclusion. Just when you thought nothing more could be done in the jazz-based idiom with a saxophone and a drum kit, along comes Sax Ruins, a deadly duo featuring improvisational sax player Ono Ryoko and Ruins skinsman Tatsuya Yoshida.
For those who don't know, Ruins was a powerful prog-rock two-piece featuring Yoshida and a rock bassist. In this latest incarnation, the language is jazzcore, with Ryoko's multi-tracked performance giving Sax Ruins' debut what can only be described as a big-band-on-massive-steroids sensibility. Except for a few tracks—like the nimble yet lethal "Pig Brag Crack"—the 17 instrumentals gathered here are titled via the band's own made-up language (e.g., "Hyderomastgroningem").
The music itself is a scary Frankenstein patchwork of Sabbath, Zorn and Glenn Miller, shambling its way down a path of free musical expression. Ryoko reportedly uses "nonbreath circulation technique and multi-phonics" to generate her awesome noise, but her real strength lies in her ideas, which are genre-spanning. Is the world ready for the drop-on-a-dime turnarounds in "Znohjmo," which goes from Slayer to "Superfly" to Sinatra in the space of a few heartbeats? Who cares? These are exceptional experiments any way they slice you.
Sax Ruins demolishes the last remaining walls between musical categories like no other band.