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Keiji Haino - "C'est parfait" endoctrine tu tombes le tete la premiere

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Artist: Keiji Haino

Album: "C'est parfait" endoctrine tu tombes le tete la premiere

Label: Turtles' Dream

Review date: Feb. 16, 2003

Another Dark Nightmare

Another release from Tokyo's mystery man Keiji Haino, who continues to evolve and try new things after over thirty years of being one of the leading lights of Japan's avant-garde. This one-track, 45-minute recording documents a live performance using just rhythm machine and vocals, though both were clearly sampled and overlaid during the set. The opening sounds spray scattershot cowbells and snare hits, interspersing moments of rest amidst sudden clatters and thuds. There are no normal rhythms here, though the sounds follow a changing pattern that can be felt and vaguely understood.

About five minutes into the 45-minute set, Haino's vocals become particularly harrowing. Shortly thereafter the rhythms stop, making way for a dark, quiet interlude punctuated with overlaid echoes of banshee-like wailing – operatic and eerie, like a collection of unhappy ghosts. The vocals manipulation sounds very natural, as if Haino has duplicated himself on stage and is truly harmonizing with himself (actually, the overlaid vocals aren't so much in harmony as they are collaborating to send a shiver down your spine.)

The rhythm machine is used as punctuation on this album, not to provide a true rhythm – it’s a sound source, not a way of pinning down the proceedings at all. In some ways Haino does play it like he plays live percussion during performances, triggering sounds in clusters and clumps to either emphasize a moment in time or to keep things off-kilter. In some ways, then, it's almost the reverse of how most artists use a rhythm machine: instead of creating a foundation with it, Haino creates a minefield.

At times the rhythms become a world of their own, though, filling the sound field in lieu of the vocals. Quickly-repeated cymbals become a wash of metallic sound while rumbling kick drum hits channel The Tell-Tale Heart. Haino then begins moaning and vocalizing over it and it becomes even more of a horror show, a nightmare of emotional outpouring. At one point he somehow emits a buzz from the drum machine, perhaps an instantly-repeating snare hit, making for an eerie sort of texture. After a sudden moment of silence, simple snare-and-cymbal hits begin to build onto themselves, looped and thrown about to create a crazed percussive atmosphere.

The last few minutes are perhaps the most harrowing. Rhythmic sounds slowly build into cacophony, like a tidal wave of noise in the background. With Haino screaming like a murder victim, the last minute would be the ideal Halloween scare music.

Seeing this live must have been quite an experience. The dynamic range, from ominous quiet to full-bore intensity, is impressive. While I may always harbor the strongest affinity for Haino's guitar-based work, he extracts more from the simple combination of rhythm and voice than most bands do with far more. As is always the case with Keiji Haino, this is quite an affecting listen.

By Mason Jones

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