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Album Review: The Book Of Patience By Ruiner

Ruiner is a drone metal act that manifested around 2010 strictly as a live experience nowhere to be found online. The upcoming release of his album, The Book of Patience, on June 9, 2023, will be the first recording of “this high desert enchanter,” who is “ready to make flesh the material capable of manipulating time and space.”

About The Book of Patience

The Book of Patience isn’t for casual music fans. It’s a high-concept record consisting of one song with 80 minutes of long-form drone. If this sounds crazy to you, it’s because it sort of is. But if you like super-weird music that pushes the boundaries, then you may dig it. It’s good for fans of Sun O))), Bell Witch, and William Basinski. 

Bell Witch, of course, has become known for releasing single-song albums that extend past an hour, including their latest release, Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate. The esoteric spiritual vibes of Ruiner’s The Book of Patience also remind me a bit of OM. And yes, things go full circle here because Al Cisneros’s previous band, Sleep, is well-known for its epic single-song album Dopesmoker, which basically led to that legendary band splitting up.

Ruiner (Zac Hogan) describes The Book of Patience as “orchestral, melancholic, sonic obliteration.” I have written about drone music before for a site called Weirdo Shrine, and it’s a challenging genre to get into for some. It’s a kind of ambient music that relies on very subtle shifts of sound and harmonies, and it’s good for setting a spooky mood or, I imagine, tripping out.

The Song

The name of the lone song in The Book of Patience is Liber Patientiae, which is simply the Latin translation of the album title. The Bandcamp page offers us a brief video for a taste of what Ruiner’s live performances are like. The short video (which you can see here) shows Ruiner on a dimly candle-lit stage wearing his black monk-like garb. He plays the bass with his bow among the incense and the choral chanting. The mysterious video was recorded at The Tumbleroot in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

By the way, Ruiner’s debut record comes to us via Desert Records, an excellent label, and they sent me the track for reviewing purposes. The album was recorded in one take using a bass bow on an open b-string (mostly) of a five-string bass by the desert enchanter. A subtle evolution in the wall of sound leads listeners through an otherwordly experience.

Though you couldn’t call it psychedelic, it has a cosmic aspect. That much is evident from watching the video of Ruiner performing amid the Gregorian chants in Santa Fe. The song’s length is designed to test the listener’s stamina and postpone gratification, something many of us may not be used to in this throw-away culture. “If absorbed wholly, transcendental exultation will be ascertained,” Ruiner says on Bandcamp. I agree with this, but most of us may not have the attention span to listen to the whole thing closely in one sitting unless we’re master meditators or stoned out of our minds.

Other than that, reviewing an album and song like this is challenging, and there’s not much more I have to say about it. The shifts in the sound of this long song are so slight that you’ll scarcely notice much movement. But then again, that’s what drone music is supposed to be. The song does build tension and reaches a climax, but it takes a while to get there.

Overall, The Book of Patience is like the sonic equivalent of a movie I once remember seeing in theaters that was deeply experimental and had very little dialogue. I think it was called The Tree of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick. The movie was 139 minutes long and interspersed scenes of a man living in 1950s Texas with the universe’s origins. I saw it with a friend, who was utterly baffled by that form of storytelling. Anyway, my point is this – The Book of Patience by Ruiner is like that. Some people will get it, but some won’t.

Final Thoughts

I like that Desert Records has taken a risk here to release something as deeply experimental as Ruiner’s record. Some may think Ruiner takes this whole thing too seriously wearing his priestly garbs, but I appreciate the earnestness and sincerity of creating high-concept art like this that could be dismissed as too pretentious by others who just want meat-and-potatoes stoner rock.

I have pre-ordered the album, and I look forward to the release. I imagine I’ll listen to this track as background music during the workday or for the weird ambiance it creates. Seeing Ruiner live is probably a fun experience, like being part of some ancient desert ritual. And I am glad he finally recorded and gathered this experience into music he can share with us.

Support Ruiner by finding him on Bandcamp or Instagram.

Support Desert Records by finding them on Bandcamp, their official site, or on social media (Instagram, Facebook).

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