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Keiji Haino

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When attempting to describe what Keiji Haino does to a guitar, the verb "play" seems terribly insufficient. Mauling might be a more appropriate choice, maybe even destroying. Whatever, whether it is as a solo performer or leading his tremendous trio Fushitsusha, Haino has been leading the loud, free form, noise-loaded, jazz/rock guitar movement in Japan for nearly three decades, starting with seminal noise-jazz/rockers Lost Aaraaff in 1971. He remains a virtual unknown, even among the music connoisseurs in his own country (I once asked a group of Japanese students, all of whom admitted to being eclectic music fans, about him, not one had heard of him) but his music as beautiful as it is coruscating is jarring, unpredictable and well worth hearing, especially by those enamored of those on the fringes of music performance.

Affecting a rock star pose (long black hair, ever-present sunglasses) Haino is an accomplished player who enjoys experimenting with undulating sheets of metallic sound. His solo recordings are frequently done live with no overdubbing, and Haino adds to the frenetic improvisatory mood by emitting shrieks and yelps as he strangles the neck of his Gibson SG. If you need a familiar example think of the more extreme moments of the late, great Sonny Sharrock, or Pete Cosey's envelope-pushing soloing with Miles Davis in the mid-70s. With Fushitsusha, however, Haino's playing is more nuanced and restrained, kind of like Bill Frisell or an introspective Fred Frith. That doesn't mean however that Haino and Fushitsusha are afraid of cutting loose and tearing it up, they are well-known (hell, revered) for turning up the volume and kicking out the jams, and the aural chaos is frequently stunning.

Not for the faint of heart or for those who compare every guitar player to Edward Van Halen, Keiji Haino is a tremendously exciting player. Granted his entire output is not essential (some of his solo recordings are repetitive), but when it comes to pushing the boundaries of music, noise, and where the guitar fits in this discourse, he has few peers.



Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s