December 12, 2018
Keiji Haino/John Butcher
Light Never Bright Enough
Konstrukt & Keiji Haino
A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies in a Quagmire
Likely the musician who has got the most mileage out of an all-black wardrobe – complete with dark sunglasses – since Johnny Cash and Jim Morrison, guitarist Keiji Haino may be the sort of player that could only have appeared from Japan’s distinctive culture. Initially a theatre performer, his pseudo-psychedelic playing, often augmented with other instruments and vocals have earned him a reputation in Rock, Noise and Free Jazz circles, collaborating with everyone from Derek Bailey and Charles Gayle to Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi. Recoded during the same year in widely different circumstances, A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies in a Quagmire (whew!) and Light Never Bright Enough offer conflicting glimpses of his work.
Created in Istanbul with the Turkish Konstrukt quartet, the first disc amplifies the guitarist’s Metal and Noise connections, with the reed overblowing of Korhan Futacı jabbing a few Free Jazz insinuations into the throbbing sound mass which is crudely sliced into the three nearly opaque performances. Also featuring two percussionists, Berkan Tilavel and Erdem Göymen plus Umut Çaglar who ricochets among micro moog, korg, gralla, bamboo flutes, xylophones, percussion, tape echo and retroverb, over the past decade Konstrukt has become a band as apt to trade licks with Thurston Moore as Joe McPhee. But almost from the first notes Rock-Improv appears to be carved on everyone’s hearts. Heavy drumming and vibrating guitar flanges stream back and forth across the sound field as dissociated altissimo saxophone thrust the density even closer. Soon the interface is as thick as the Trump purported Mexico/US wall is supposed to be. Although the concert slides and shudders on for many minutes, the defining climax arrives at the mid-point of “The Darkness Of +(plus) And The Paleness Of –(minus) Drag Each To An Identical Distance And Reanalyse Blending In Some Pain” (who comes out with these titles?) Layering and duality is glimpsed via supercharged guitar riffs and sizzling electronic drones, which at times separate to briefly reveal dyspeptic saxophone sprawls, moog wiggles and farts, vocals that are part Noh theatre growls and part Norwegian Death Metal screams and exaggerated drum smacks. With all these textures balanced on protracted guitar strums, the quintet turns from a variation of hide and seek (the narrative) to follow-the-leader into an overriding theme to the ending.
Armed only with soprano and tenor saxophones and feedback, Briton John Butcher takes on Haino’s guitar, flutes and voice in a London gig on the other CD, which despite subtracting players is often as frenetic as the previous disc. Not that there aren’t oasis of calm. For instance “II - 6:49” begins with microtonal reed bites from Butcher and bent-not clicks from Haino that magnify to encompass snarling buzzes from the horn’s body tube mated with passive string patting from the guitarist. Another brief section allow for timbre trading between Butcher’s atom-sized split tones and vocalized gurgles and hums from Haino that actually sound less human than vocalized saxophone sighs.
Often appearing to play both his saxophone at once, perhaps through feedback, Butcher is able to give as good as he gets from Haino’s collection of multi-layered flanges on the two extended tracks that occupy the set’s mid-point and conclusion. As the guitarist splintered string licks allow his output to become heavier and more percussive, the saxophone introduces works his way up the scale with everything from microtonal peeps to expanded glossolalia. Circular breathing is used sparingly on the saxophonist’s part, but there is just enough of it to provide a reed bottom on which another saxophone line is heard creating variations upon theme variations as Haino hammers drum-like on his strings. These miasmic variables are picked up and expanded on the concluding “V - 16:56” where the reed tone expands to the extent that horn-of-plenty-like vibrations move forward in elevated pitches as thumps and rasgueado patterns are emphasized enough to disrupt the harsh double-tongued blowing that often take son air-raid-siren-like qualities. Finally as one Haino aside showcases his freak-out noise band roots and Butcher responds with prototypical Free Music trope of circular breathing, the set ends. Overall it has been more of a stand-off than a K.O. for either side.
Since other guitarists also express the raucous to reasonable repertoire that Haino expresses, he must be judged by the company he keeps. Those familiar with his work may find him embedding licks within the Konstrukt formula more gratifying; other may prefer to track how he reacts to a player like Butcher who provide an improvisational concept markedly different than the guitarist’s
Track Listing: Philosophy: 1. ll Things Will Be Reduced To Equal D お Tっっ3 BBRc MMM あ元 Part 1 2. ll Things Will Be Reduced To Equal D お Tっっ3 BBRc MMM あ元 Part 204:55 3. ll Things Will Be Reduced To Equal D お Tっっ3 BBRc MMM あ元 Part 309:12 4. The Darkness Of +(plus) And The Paleness Of –(minus) Drag Each To An Identical Distance And Reanalyse Blending In Some Pain Part 1 5. The Darkness Of +(plus) And The Paleness Of –(minus) Drag Each To An Identical Distance And Reanalyse Blending In Some Pain Part 2 6. The Darkness Of +(plus) And The Paleness Of –(minus) Drag Each To An Identical Distance And Reanalyse Blending In Some Pain Part 3
Personnel: Philosophy: Korhan Futacı (alto and tenor saxophones, zurna, kaval, sipsi, instant loops, voice): Keiji Haino (guitar, percussion, air synths, voice); Umut Çaglar (micro moog, korg, gralla, bamboo flutes, xylophones, percussion, tape echo, retroverb); Berkan Tilavel (drums] electronic percussion, tef, cymbal); Erdem Göymen (drums, cymbals, percussion)
Track Listing: Light: 1. I - 6:30 2. II - 6:49 3. III - 17:43 4. IV - 6:18 5. V - 16:56
Personnel: Light: John Butcher (soprano and tenor saxophones and feedback) and Keiji Haino (guitar, flutes, vocal)