Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Easily one of the year's most anticipated releases for me, the dual onslaught of Keiji Haino's new band Seijaku. I think pretty much anyone with a passion for Haino's art has lamented the end of the mighty Fushitsusha and has yearned for Haino to return to full band form. For me the discovery of Fushitsusha was completely life-changing; afterwards nothing was the same at all with regards to music and my appreciation for it and it was the first of many doors opening into a whole new world of formless, devastating spontaneous composition. Certainly as a guitarist Haino has been a primary influence and there's still no one better than the Black One himself at unleashing a stinking torrent of noxious noise filth from the six-string. Guitar as terrorism, noise as a gateway to true and total transcendentalism-Fushitsusha was a project capable of blowing as many brains as eardrums and its dissolution so many years back was cause for great sorrow amongst the faithful.
Of course Haino's kept busy in the interim, releasing shitloads of massive records that assault the ears and warp the mind but there's always been a strong desire to see him back with a band again, just one amongst a small swarm of brutal devastators, wielding the guitar like a hot sword of death and cleaving through throngs of the non-believers with cool casual indifference. Seijaku fulfills a little bit of that desire on this first record, but not entirely.
What's done is done very very well and is extremely satisfying. The allusion to Haino's former psych-rock behemoth in the album title is a bit misleading, more than likely intentionally, and perhaps creates an unrealistic expectation for what's going to ensue. First off-there's virtually no distortion on this album. On two songs that classic Haino sound comes out-reverbed holocaust-but it's used so sparingly as to be almost nonexistent. The focus here is on spaciousness. An aura of black austere cleanliness envelops these proceedings, like some sort of hospital ritual in the dead of night. Everything is clinical and controlled, from the simple repetitive no frills drumming to the throbbing pulse of the quaking bass. Even Haino himself holds back per se, using his guitar to repeat motifs over and over, with little to no extrapolation throughout. It's very noisy, yes, and entirely discordant, but it's nowhere near as punishing as Fushitsusha.
The question then becomes: is this shit any good? Is it worth the massive expenditure? The answer is an unequivocal yes. If Fushitsusha represented a fully immersive and drunken sort of psychedelia then Seijaku is that same psychedelia issued out for the droning mind. This is nihilistic no wave minimalism, delivered with an intense sense of aggravation that i've never heard in Haino's vocals. There's no veiled messages or whispered warnings-this shit is all up front, yelled and volatile. Everything here is outward, made for the listener. It's an empty, desolate recording and rightly earns a place in Haino's oeuvre as one of his most defining, idiosyncratic moments. It's as caustic as you would want without being embraced by consuming flames but there's enough focus on spaces and slow motion to keep you grounded. It's both hypnotic and jarring, like a knife in your belly while you're stuffed full of oxy. Pure electricity, pure void. It's a scream from beyond the reaches of imploding nothingness, with virtually no tether to bind it to this world. The vestiges of influence are there, but as always Haino takes what he appreciates and twists it into a jagged, scarred form intent on leaving new wounds. This is a major new direction for Haino and way way recommended.

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