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The Ruins
(Ipecac Records)

In case you didn't know it, syrup of Ipecac is a substance that induces vomiting. It's not exactly tasty stuff, but it serves a purpose and that's more than you can say for some things. As a recording label, Ipecac has released some of the strangest, most bowel-churning music out there. Everything from experimental hip-hop (Dälek) to electronic speed-thrash (Phantomsmasher) and everything in-between (many different Mike Patton projects). At any rate, much of what they've put out would probably scare the living shit out of your average mall dweller, and this release by The Ruins continues in that trend.

The weird thing, though, is that my first reaction to listening to Tzomborgha is to smile and laugh. A drum/bass duo from Japan that mix prog rock with math rock, this group sounds like they're playing one of the most well-orchestrated practical jokes in music while at the same time sounding completely serious. In addition to the bass of Sasaki Hisashi and the drums of Yoshida Tatsuya, the latter adds vocals that range from homage-like prog wails to shreiks, yelps, and just about any other odd intonation you can think of.

Musically, this 15 track release is completely all over the place. As mentioned above, tracks have such odd timing signatures and change so rapidly that I find it amazing the group can even keep in sync (but they manage to amazingly). Not only that, but there's such a precise quality about it that the theatrics of the music can't help but make you smile. The opening track of "Komnigriss" starts out with some completely off-kilter bass/drum math rock progressions, but soon turns into jagged post-metal of some sort before morphing again into something almost sane. The second track "Skhanddraviza" starts out with warbled (literally) vocals and tourette's-like bursts of instrumentation, and eventually morphs into a twitching, almost operatic spasm of rocking out.

Basically, variations on those themes continue for nearly the entire length of the album. Sometimes, Tatsuya sounds like he should be singing the vocals to some sort of overblown rock opera, while at other times he's pitching gutteral fits of completely incoherent nonsense. Actually, all his lyrics sound like complete nonsense, and to most people the majority of the release will sound the same. There's little rhyme or reason within the tracks and most of the time they simply sound like they're trying to mess with your head as much as possible by changing things around and flying in the face of reason. On the closing two tracks, they take things the logical step further. "Black Sabbath Medley Reversible" is an absolutely hilarious 2-minute mashup of butchered Sabbath and overdone vocals while "Mahavishnu Orchestra Medley" again manages to fit about 20 different nuggets into 120 seconds of time. Because of all of the above, Tzomborgha is really more about the sound than the music. It takes nearly all rules and throws them out the window in creating an absolutely twisted journey through wacked-out spaces. You may find yourself astounded by the craft, but listening to this release all the way through may also cause convulsions.

Rating: 6