Live Eye: Ruins / AIDS Wolf @ Sneaky Dee’s, Sept. 17
September 18th, 2007
I’ve always been partial to palpable tinnitus as a hallmark of a great show. If nothing else, Ruins’ Tatsuya Yoshida and his supporting acts last night were united by their allegiance to the loud. Toronto’s own instrumentalists Etaoin Shrdlu were up first, skillfully pumping out muscular math-rock. Drummer Gus Weinkauf (who also percusses in excellent avant-jazz duo Feuermusik) was especially impressive this time around; he looks like a circus strongman (it’s the shaved head and moustache) and has the chops to match, equally adept at attacking the skins in a frenzy and timing ominous moments of silence.
AIDS Wolf are only interested in the former. Their set after Etaoin Shrdlu was more structured than I’ve ever seen from them — some of the outbursts actually sounded like songs — but they still get their kicks from abrasion. It would be too sweeping a statement to suggest that the aesthetic of noise music is based on ugliness, and yet I can’t think of a better way to describe this band. They’re all distortion and throttled guitars and stabbed notes, singer Chloe Lum staggering across the stage making nasal yowls, a jerky zombie. I just wish the drums had been less marginalized in the mix.
As you could tell when he sat down at his kit surrounded by mics, that wasn’t going to be a problem for Yoshida. The percussionist is now touring as “Ruins Alone” after bassist Sasaki Hihashi suffered an injury and the lack of any accompaniment aside from a sampler made his drum onslaught all the more impressive. Yoshida boasts the technical virtuosity and audacious ambition that define prog, but his instantaneous tempo shifts and hardcore-influenced technique curtail the genre’s tendency towards wanky noodling.
His sticks flew around the kit in a sweaty ring; the guy drums like a Formula One champion drives around a track. And his experimentalism is, well, fun: there’s no better word to describe a guy yodeling operatically in his invented language alongside trance synths or pounding away over what sounded like the boss theme from Shinobi III. Cranky highbrows got their fill with an effortless medley of classical snippets that leapt from “Halleujah” to Vivaldi and ended up dazed and confused somewhere around Sabbath. In other words, Yoshida crammed hundreds of years of musical history into a few minutes as an improvised digression during a half-hour-long behemoth. What dark magic did Phil Collins wield to become famous ahead of this man? Once my lobes stop ringing I’ll ask anyone in earshot.
It's strange , positive or negative , talk about AIDS wolf seems to ALWAYS have reference to us not playing songs. Or to a set *almost* sounding like songs. It makes me wonder if the reviewer in question really watched us , cause folks seem to come away thinking we're ALOT more fucked up than we actually are.
If anything , our older material is , structurally , totally straight forward punk rock songs played in an alternate tunning . Our newer stuff is much more difficult , moving further away from "rock" and incorporating afro-Cuban rhythms and much more dissonant guitars. Still , everything we play is about precision and structure.
We are not a noise band.
Check out this AWESOME fucking band we're playing with in Seattle. They are called Pyramids and have some kind of connection to The Intelligence (who I'm ooobbbbbessssessed with and play every freaking time i dj at Time's Up) but are more FUCKED UP! We seriously have the best booking agent in the world working this tour for us. I'm fucking STOKED!