Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dream Theater, The Joker And The Ruins

For about a week, I've been listening to the Ruins everyday on the way to work - I seem to do this about once a year.  Every time I listen to them, they blow my mind all over again, as though I'm hearing them for the first time.  I find myself wondering:  what prevents me from listening to them on a more regular basis?  I think it is because they are the tricksters of rock.  And it makes makes me love them all the more.

Let me explain what I mean.  As you know, the role of the trickster in mythology is to introduce chaos into a given situation.  Tricksters dispense with rules, convention, and posturing.  I'd add my belief that the trickster is one with his true nature/so in tune with what he is that he cannot explain his motivations; he just acts on impulse.  I think the Joker touched on this in "The Dark Knight":
I'm a dog chasing cars . . . I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it.  I just do things.  I'm just a wrench in the gears.  I hate plans. . . . Schemers are trying to control their worlds.  I'm not a schemer.  I show schemers just how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.
So let's think about the Ruins, a lean, stripped down, ultra-aggressive duo (and sometimes trio) of staggering ability and chops that would make the proggiest of prog fans shit their pants.  Why aren't they required listening for all Dream Theater fans?  Because of the Ruins' steadfast refusal to take themselves too seriously.  Most prog rock/jazz rock/fusion fans would find them way too hard to stomach.  The would yell at their tricked out sound system:  "Why won't they settle into a groove!?  What's with the incomprehensible falsetto singing!?  Where is the story line!?  Where is the slick production!?  The chops are there - WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE RUINS?"

There's nothing wrong with the Ruins.  They simply provide a stark contrast to the posturing all around them.  About the only thing they have in common with Dream Theater (and bands of similar ilk) is the heavy riffage.  But in addition to the acrobatic bass playing and aggressive, technical drumming, it's the raw chaos I'm attracted to; the goofy singing and ear drum splitting noise. It's fun to imagine what it would be like if the Ruins showed up unannounced on a busy night at one of the local nightclubs.  I'm positive it would look like SEAL Team 6 just hit the place.  Patrons would be left wondering what the hell they just saw.  They'd be trying to sort it out.  And they won't be able to sort it out.  The only solid conclusion they'd reach is that they just saw something so rare, so powerful, so unique that everything else in their music collection will begin to lose its luster.  And it was all because of some clowns - some jokers - from Japan showed them what power and beauty look like after they've been rearranged at least four times in the same song.  In this way, the Ruins introduce chaos and smash one's understanding of what sophistication looks like.

I'm doing a crappy job of explaining myself, so I'd better just let this go.  Here's a sample of what I'm talking about; and yet another.

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