Ground Zero - Plays Standards

Year of Release: 2002
Label: ReR Recommended
Catalog Number: GZ3
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:39:00

Picture a walk through the frayed edges of sanity, of a loud and angular crowd storming through the streets of the city while tormented by the inrush of surrounding noise to be found in braking cars, screeching bicycles, falling crates, and what not. Then graft the impression to a demented variety of music covering the spectrum from Burt Bacharach to Japanese TV show music themes to samba to jazz to crushing riffs to insert a new one here. Ready? Good. Now scramble the result through the fragmented conscience of a schizophrenic and watch the product shift from pleasant relaxedness to the equivalent of biting glass and then washing it off with acid to sinking into a beautiful childlike sadness. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Welcome to the impossibly spastic world of Otomo Yoshihide and Ground Zero.

The kind that leaves the listener in quite an uncomfortable state for extended periods of time, has a volley of sonic debris constantly disrupting everything with a revolving collection of unrelated noises, and barely has its chassis landing on the ground of the stable and sane when a gust of metropolitan neurosis lifts it up into the air once again. Plays Standards is, to be put fairly, a collection of Yoshihide's musical remembrances that his anarchistic outfit distorts, dismantles, reassembles, and mutates into a screeching no-holds-barred hour that batters, irritates, absorbs, and wrecks. Plastered with the gorilla-like machine gun drumming of Uemura Masahiro and Yoshigaki Yasuhiro, the grinding saxophone of Kikuchi Naruyoshi, and the editing madness of Yoshihide himself, it is an album that demands the listener to be in the appropriate mood for it and, if the ultimatum is not complied with, overwhelms one anyway. Kind of like a nuclear warhead three inches from one's face.

And don't even ask if it's pretty, because with the exception of the warm samba tropical mood of "Folhas Secas" and the outer space reaches of the reflective "Yume No Hansyu," it's as pretty as life for a post-nuclear-apocalypse family could ever get. "El Derecho De Vivir En Paz Shinoshin 3/4" does start off the proceedings by fooling the listener with an intense heavy metal riff followed by a raunchy sax melody that's origins are inexplicably to be found in Chilean folk music, driving ahead with immediate force of impact, but soon things dissolve into Yoshihide's playground. And that's not quite Disneyland, unless the beloved theme park were totaled by a hurricane after a catastrophic earthquake. His vision is instead aggressively chaotic, trading off melody for pseudorandom samples, placing percussive patterns where they shouldn't be, and even turning ultra-kitsch into blistering sonic avant-gardism. More than bizarre, however, Plays Standards is abrasive in its purest essence.

Yet, curiously enough, it does actually make sense as the album it was intended to be, if only in a weird kind of way. Through the revolving debris and layers of grating noise, the chosen musical remembrances come out scarred but still recognizable in their nature, although grossly altered into a jarring vision. And so it is that a track like "Miagetegoran, Yoru No Hoshi Wo" remains a placid contemplation of embracing sadness, hyperactive drumming and monumental interference notwithstanding; or that "Ultra Q" emerges from the maddening pastiche of sound effects into full fledged tension. Forget the small details, however. The entire album is probably worth it just for the maniacally angry screaming right in the middle of "Bones," the album's most resounding explosion. Ground-Zero: music for the post-nuclear-apocalypse family. Handle with care.

El Derecho De Vivir En Paz + Shinoshin 3/4 (6:19) / Ultra Q (5:06) / Those Were the Days (6:17) / Folhas Secas (3:52) / Washington Post March + Japan Dissolution (3:09) / Akashia No Ame Ga Yamu Toki (4:19) / Bones (2:34) / Where Is the Police? + The Bath Of Surprise (6:23) / Miagetegoran, Yoru No Hoshi Wo (8:16) / Yume No Hansyu (4:57) / Die Papple Vom Karlsplatz (4:57) / A Better Tomorrow + I Say A Little Prayer (Roland Kirk Version) (10:55)

Otomo Yoshihide - turntables, guitar, voice, surdo, agogo bel, whistling, tubes, reeds, toys, other noises
Uchihashi Kazuhisa - guitars, effects, voice
Matsubara Sachiko - sampler, omnichord, voice
Kikuchi Naruyoshi - saxophone, voice
Tanaka Yumiko - shamisens, voice, kokyu, taisho-koto, koto, toys
Nasuno Mitsuru - bass, voice
Uemura Masahiro - drums, percussion
Yoshigaki Yasuhiro - drums, percussion

Ground Zero (1993)
Null & Void(1995)
Revolutionary Pekinese Opera (1995)
Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, Version 1.28 (1996)
Plays Standards(1997)
Consume Red (1997)
Conflagration (1997)
Consummation (1998)
Last Concert (1999)
Live 1992+ (2007)

Genre: Rock In Opposition

Origin JP

Added: July 16th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 1688
Language: english


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