Keiji Haino/Stephen O’Malley/Oren Ambarchi – Nazoranai Review

July 15, 2012

From the outset, there is a much different feeling to this work that any of Haino’s countless other collaborations. While the Haino/O’Rourke/Ambarchi works were very free and out of control, this seems tamer. But the strange thing is, it’s not tame at all. While it doesn’t have the persistent wail of noise, it has a completely different method of attack. This time it’s in the form of texture. The first track opens slowly and doesn’t really push beyond that. However, the song itself feels very macabre. As I listen to it with headphones on, I can’t help but feel like I’m being lured into a strange and terrifying universe. It’s dark and it’s frightening, but I also find myself strangely compelled to dive deeper into it. Haino’s nonsensical, screaming vocals feel almost painful. Like he’s trapped somewhere, trying to escape from what torments him. This haunting vocal effect, juxtaposed with O’Malley’s slow, droning bass really gives the piece an unsettling feel.

The whole thing feels sparse and empty. Not in the way that it lacks content, but in the way that it’s supposed to convey a desolate and desperate mood. Arambarchi’s drumming style really helps here, setting a slow pace, which drags the rest of the story along with it. As the album progresses, it seems to further remove itself from reality, becoming even more bizarre and estranged in the way it displays itself. Maybe that’s why I like it so much, it has really drawn me in and I spend the entire time listening to it wondering how long it will stay afloat for before it descends into madness. It’s a smooth transition from sounding so together and whole to sounding utterly decadent. Time is definitely plays a key role in the understanding of this piece. The lengthy tracks really test your patience as you sit there, contemplating their eventual demise. This is definitely a record to get lost in. The perfect scenario would be late at night, alone, in the dark, with headphones on just immersing yourself in the music.

I don’t know what it is about Haino’s work that I find so utterly enthralling. Even when working with highly regarded musicians, he manages to bring something new to the plate. Writing this, I’m fully aware of how shallow my venture into the world of Keiji Hain’o is. I’ve heard a fair few of his collaborative works with the likes of Jim O’Rourke, Pan Sonic and most of the stuff he released with Fushitsusha. Despite this though, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. If I wanted, I could probably dedicate a whole blog to searching through his vast discography, reviewing selected works. It’s definitely something that comes across in the music though. Being a man of such experience, he really seems to know how to play to the advantages of those he’s working with and, especially in this case, it makes for a unique and wholly consuming listen. Granted, it’s not for everyone, but even if you pass the works full of guitar hiss and relentless screaming, there will still be something you can connect with.


Nazoranai is out now on Ideologic Organ.

Editions Mego

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