With the exit of Ruins’ fourth bassist, Sasaki Hisashi in 2004, Ruin-in-chief Tatsuya continued to play as Ruins Alone, delivering solo sets that wrapped gobbledygook vocals with boggling rhythmic complexity, apparently working out a formative fixation with French prog-rockers Magma.
But now, in a new duo with Korekyojinn rhythm partner Mitsuru, Tatsuya has taken the Ruins prject back to its roots as the Minutemen of Japanoise, pumping out tightly-knotted rapids of pugilistic rhythm that occasionally ease off for a Tatsuya vocal, but constantly threaten (it never happens) to drag any song-sense into a vortical low-end melee.
Bassist Nasuno Mitsuru (at various times past of Altered States, Ground Zero, and two Keiji Haino projects: Seijaku and Fushitsusha) plays with the sort of funky elasticity more usually associated with the SST hardcore aesthetic than Japanoise, and Tatsuya seems to respond in kind. Theirs is an earthier, more open sound than, say, the superficially similar, sudden-switchback noise projects of John Zorn and Mike Patton, or the compacted psych-jazz-metal of Musica Transonic, another band Tatsuya, once played for.
Furthering Ruins predilection for heterogeneous mashups, Ruins Songs ended their set with the bracing “Hard Rock Medley”, powering through the essence of my early record collection (the most memorable split seconds of Sabs’ “Iron Man”, Cream’s “Sunshine”, Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker”, etc) in a limber brace of minutes.
Add guitarist Kido Natsuki to the Ruins Songs duo and you have Korekyojinn, which could be the power trio that (if Wikipedia is credible) Tatsuya originally intended Ruins to be.
Korekyojinn’s name apparently translates as ‘This Giant’, a punning conflation of This Heat and Gentle Giant, but their sound is altogether harder than either of these precursors’; a blend of Ruins’ loquacious bluntness with the progtastic dexterity of Rush is more like it.
Korekyojinn kick off with a relatively tame number I don’t recognise, but then take a deep breath and drop straight into a superb “Swan Dive”, the opening salvo from their album no. 5, last years’ Tundra. They need to be ferociously well-driled to tackle structures like this, but they stay loose enough to offset any sense of egocentrism, and Tatsuya and Mitsuru stretch those quick-changes out just a enough to allowing guitarist Kido Natsuki (formerly of bands all unknown to me: Bondage Fruit, Salle Gavaux, Kiki Band) to explore his inner Lifeson without getting too indulgent.
The set continues and ends with well-honed highlights from their earlier songbook, including “Jackson”, “Quicksilver” and the title track from Isotope: all polyrhythmic avant-prog action. Great fun.
In between the Ruins Songs and Korekyojinn sets, special guest Charles Hayward (once drummer with the influential This Heat, more recently with Massacre and Monkey Puzzle Trio) opened up a potential new chapter in his own evolution as solo artist.
Forsaking the drums, Charles Hayward performed a set structured around his idiosyncratic take on song-form and the spoken word. He accompanied himself by turns on the OTO grand, a melodica and a cheap Yamaha keyboard, with only brief, meditational interludes of hand-held percussion – rubbing two glass bottles together to create a brittle, vortical drone, for instance, or sounding with mallets an array of Chinese bowls.
At one point, Hayward threw his hands up and exclaimed “I don’t know what I’m doing here”: a nice ice-breaker but not the self-deprecatory admission the audience initially assumed. “What are any of us doing here” he continued, “standing on this one lonely atom in space?” Fortunately, everyone was having too good a time to ponder that question too closely.
Though they sound very different, when singing his affectingly naked, confessional songs at the piano, Hayward convinced that he has the humanity and fiercely concentrated idiosyncrasy to become a great British eccentric singer-songwriter in the Robert Wyatt mould.
Fushitsusha, John Butcher and Temperatures at St John at Hackney, 5 October 2012