Keiji Haino. Sumac. What more can be said about these two that hasn’t been said before?
When I first heard the announcement of this album, I was surprised at the pairing, but at the same time I wasn’t. I also remember feeling excited that people who might not have otherwise heard of Keiji would now be exposed to his brand of intense, pure and free expression. I don’t know if this album has had a divisive reception, I’m sure some people aren’t happy about it to some extent. They’ll get over it.
This monstrous album starts off with “American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On” a sprawling 19 minute long track that starts softy with some sparse guitar chords, scrapes, rolls and flute. Keiji makes a quiet entry into the track, it slowly builds and around the 4 minute mark Mt. Keiji begins to erupt as the band follows suit. I’ve never looked up to see what Keiji’s lyrics touch upon, but I believe every goddamn word and emotion he’s spewing forth. The track starts to boil over around the 8 minute mark before someone turns the heat down. It comes down to a simmer, the band lays back, Keiji now in his sound poetry mode. He begins building on a phrase and it takes on a very ritualistic, shamanistic type of feel. Like something is being exorcised. We’re brought back to Sumac taking over with some airy, picked chords and drum improvisation before the band finally just let’s everything out in a thundering crescendo.
Skipping over a shorter, heavy jammer we get to what I believe is the center pieces of the album, “I’m Over 137% A Love Junkie And Still It’s Not Enough Pt. I & II” These two tracks leave me speechless. The pairing have found a nice balance by this point in the album. Masterful use of ebb and flow where the empty spaces in between are equally heavy if not heavier than the loud parts.
Pt. II confuses me in a wonderful way, at first I feel like I’m hearing Aaron’s signature bark, but then it seems to morph into a filtered wah type of guitar sound which makes me think the part I thought was Aaron was really a guitar all along. I’m happy to not know the true answer to this mystery. The ending is pure bliss as the delicate, icy guitars and scrapes become a swirling mass of noise. This feels very reminiscent to “bassAliens” by SUNN O))), but better.
The final track, “What Have I Done? (I Was Reeling In Something White And I Became Able To Do Anything I Made A Hole Imprisoned Time Within It Created Friction Stopped Listening To Warnings Ceased Fixing My Errors Made the Impossible Possible? Turned Sadness Into Joy) Pt.II” is a beautifully noisy closer to this collaboration. The question from the previous track, I believe is answered in this track as far as a guitar sounding like Aaron Turner.
Overall I think this album was a successful experiment and I hope to hear more from this grouping. I’m sure a remix album by Daniel Menche isn’t far off, but in the meantime check out this 67 minute slab of free form metal out for yourself!
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Favorite Tracks: I’m Over 137% A Love Junkie and Still It’s Not Enough Pt. I & II
For Fans Of: Nazoranai, Old Man Gloom, Fushitsusha