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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Latest news from Keiji Haino

By Daniel Böker 

Keiji Haino is one of the artists who is all over the place. His collaboration with Oren Ambarchie
and Jim O'Rourke was one of my first encounters with his work. I have tried to collect them all as far as they have been published. Highly recommended!

Then I saw him live twice and his presence on stage is impressive. Up to the end of 2017, he published two new records: one with the Turkish band Konstrukt and the other with John Butcher.

Keiji Haino and Konstrukt - A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire (Karlrecords, 2017) ****

A beat. A beat in memory of the late Jaki Liebezeit? At least I felt compelled to listen to Secret Rhythms 4, one of the albums he did with Burnt Friedman. Then a voice. Singing without words. It is a surprisingly meditative way into that album. Especially surprising according to the expectations one has reading the name Keiji Haino on the record.

A strong and melodic sax joins in and it fits in perfectly. Especially because of the drums, the sound of the first track is very hypnotic. Every other sound, instrument and voice circle around that beat and pulls the listener deeper into the track. When the saxophone starts to get more intense, I am already lost in the music.

The second track also rests upon a hypnotic beat by Erdem Göymen but Keiji Haino opens in a more known or expected way: He screams at the top of his lungs and Korhan Futacı plays in a more demanding manner.

The second track is the escalation of the first track in a way: The ingredients are the same more or less but every part of it is intensified without completely loosing the meditative or hypnotic aspects. The third track (the first three are combined by the same title called Part I-III of an unpronounceable combination of English and Japanese (?) words) cracks open that sound system: the drums play a much more open rhythm; electronics and a lot of other instruments join in and Keiji Haino's voice is less dominating.

With this part Konstrukt and Keiji Haino build the sound up to a first wall of sound. Layer upon layer they add more intensity with every instrument available in the band. Listening I think the development from part I to part III is compelling.

A great piece of music.

The next three tracks are also a set under one title and I will write it down just for the fun of it: "The Darkness Of +(plus) And The Paleness of -(minus) Drag Each To An Identical Distance And Reanalyse Blending In Some Pain".

It starts completely different and that is not only because Keiji Haino plays the guitar. The drums leave the hypnotizing pattern behind and act in an open and free way alongside Haino's guitar and the other instruments. You can hear the saxophone but also a lot of other instruments and sounds generated by a Moog, laptops and other devices. The complete second „trilogy“ is more in a freejazznoiserockwallofsound manner. The third part and with it the end of the record sounds like a question to me? Still free and noisy and all that but in a reduced style. As if to ask: Is that all there is to that circus? Hopefully they will return to that question. Hopefully they will seek more answers like that record.


Keiji Haino & John Butcher – Light Never Bright Enough (Otoroku, 2017) ****

There already was a short review on this album by Eyal Hareuveni that you can find here. So I will only add a few words of my personal impression of the music you can hear on that record.

First it is a completely different album than the collaboration with Konstrukt. That is easy to acknowledge because this one is a duo record: John Butcher on sax and Keiji Haino on guitar. (Well also with flute and some pedals or other devises to alter the sound of the actual instrument). But it is also very different from the first because it is one set with about 50+ minutes running. On the album the set is divided in five tracks but I think you should listen to it as one set from beginning to end.

Every time I have seen Haino live on stage, and even with a lot of his records, I get the impression that he is the head of the band or group or duo. He sets the tone and shows the way. This might even be with his record with Konsrukt. But it certainly is not true with this one. Butcher and Haino create the sound, the music together. You can listen to the process of finding a way to express something together.

They both start with short, sharp notes and with a lot of space in between, as if they were waiting for each other. Or waiting for an answer. With that picture in mind one can say that the conversation intensifies over the next fifty minutes. After the first few minutes (It might be the first track but as I said I think the whole things should be listened to as a single set.) they don't have to wait for each other anymore. The tone is set and they create a space filled with noise and melody. Both are there to find!

Half way through there is something like a break and you can hear cymbals or some other percussive sounds. Out of that relaxed sound comes the sax back again with a beautiful melody. Again the two of them build a solid ground for their interaction. This time with the flute and the saxophone. Haino starts to use his voice as another instrument without screaming.

This album, ending in a massive wall of sound is a great document of two musicians being on par with each other. Both engage fully in the set and still I find it recognizable what Haino doesn't do: He doesn't scream at the top of his lungs, he doesn't take the leading role. And because of that (not alone but also) this is a great record!


Unknown said...

Thank you. I check it out.

His collaboration with the post-metal-band SUMAC is fantastic. Keiji Haino as it's best.

Daniel Boeker said...


I will check that out.