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Album Review

Following 2011's In a Flash Everything Comes Together as One There Is No Need for a Subject, figureheads of experimental freakrock Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi join forces in collaboration once more on Imikuzushi. This sprawling megalith of noise and tension casts the trio in traditional rock band roles, recorded completely live in Tokyo with O'Rourke on bass, Ambarchi as the drummer, and Haino limiting himself to highly effected guitar and vocals. All three are known for their work pushing sounds to their limits, so the choice to transplant themselves into such standard instrumentation becomes a challenge as to how far they can take this commonplace setup. Much like Haino's free rock onslaughts with Fushitsusha, the trio begins the set at full steam, with "Still Unable to Throw Off That Teaching..." exploding out of the gates like a demented post-apocalyptic take on the Stooges' Funhouse, with Haino's haunted vocal interjections channeling Jandek. The song's 13-odd minutes represent the shortest piece of the four here. Haino is doing what he does best on all the tracks, unraveling doom-laden guitar tones and strangling out ghostly vocals in short bursts. Ambarchi is better known for his glowing ambient excursions than work as a solid drummer, but his playing here is restrained and pummeling by turns, always locked in deeply with his bandmates. These unedited sections were whittled down as the best parts of a three-hour concert performance, so the physical limitations of playing at full bore for that long come into play somewhat. "Ready and Waiting..." (all the song titles are incredibly long, basically small poems or possibly lyrical excerpts) lurks and grows over the course of 17 minutes, gaining power in a slow crawl, with Haino's hypnotic guitar tones reflecting the acid-damaged jamming of Les Rallizes Dénudés. Imikuzushi reaches its peak on "Invited in...," where the rhythm section locks into a K***t-funk groove reminiscent of the darkest Faust jams. The track's almost 23 minutes see the band devolving from said groove into DNA-like no wave vocalizations and reaching a metallic free-flight climax before cooling back down with O'Rourke's distorted bass figures trading punches with Haino's troubled screams until they both fall down in exhausted piles. Incredible communication and playing are the strong points of the record, even if the pieces themselves might be too lengthy and punishing to digest in one sitting.


Born: 1952

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Imikuzushi, Keiji Haino
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