Album of the Day: Keiji Haino / Jim O’Rourke / Oren Ambarchi – In the Past Only Geniuses Were Capable of Staging the Perfect Crime (Also Known as a Revolution) Today Anybody Can Accomplish Their Aims With the Push of a Button

The ninth, (as time of writing) most recent and perhaps most successful of their seemingly annual collaborative releases thus far, Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi’s In the Past Only Geniuses Were Capable of Staging the Perfect Crime (Also Known as a Revolution) Today Anybody Can Accomplish Their Aims with the Push of a Button feels like something of a throwback, in the best possible way.

The comfort the three artists clearly now feel with one another allows for the dynamic to depart from the typical mode in which Haino-san forever appears as the master, supported by artists who in any other context would be top-billed as giants in their field, now dwarfed by his singular presence (indeed, the only time this dynamic has ever felt reversed was in Haino-san’s collaboration with Derek Bailey). This is not to caste Haino-san as an ungenerous improvisational partner, but to acknowledge the extent to which co-conspirators, particularly those playing instruments that qualify as the typical rhythm section can find themselves naturally aiming toward the subordinate position, especially when faced with such an icon as Keiji Haino.

Nevertheless, here, the degrees of space and engagement afforded to and between each musician feels to be of the utmost equity. The often grippingly pensive ambiance effected by the piano skittering of Ambarchi’s cymbals and the deliberate yet restrained sporadic chords on O’Rourke’s six-string bass / Hammond organ don’t simply leave a gap that is forcefully pervaded by noise emanating from Haino-san’s guitar, electronics or vocals. Rather, there remains for the grand majority of this ~90 minute piece a tangible lacuna, a great unsaid. At certain points, above all in the second track “Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously Decorously To Make Something Beautiful And Then Smash It Decorously,” this takes on an element of blues and jazz-fusion, with a generative bass hook on the part of O’Rourke that may only be rivaled by Michael Henderson’s on Miles Davis’ “Sivad” in terms of cool, that feels entirely reminiscent of the greater degree of rock’n’roll orientation in 不失者’s first eponymous release, not least of all とどかない. At others, it achieves the manifestation of Schopenhaueran nihil negativum with which Eugene Thacker attributes such solo Keiji Haino records as So, Black is Myself (I would personally proffer I Said, This is the Son of Nihilism).

In the latter half of In the Past…, we do, slowly and with great trepidation, build to a crescendo. Haino-san’s reverb-drenched guitar, in conjunction with his vocals, deliver an oneiric quality that is both sonically and affectively reminiscent of Kevin Shields and Patti Smith’s performance of The Coral Sea. Similarly, the only impression we really have of the build here is for it to become subject to absolute entropy and dissipation. That the accompanying video Black Truffle Records have released for the YouTube promotion of the second part of the titular track is compiled stock stills and footage of domestic vignettes, giving way to imagery of apocalyptic planes, subject to the Push of a Button to which the title alludes is entirely apposite. Throughout his decades of unchallenged avant-garde oscillations between precision and chaos, Keiji Haino has forever manifested as the paradox of the being so detached from the world, that he feels and expresses all its emotions at once. Such a phenomenon has the effect of flattening time to a degree that each record in which he is involved is a uniquely world-creating-and-destroying experience. And yet, though there (gratifyingly) appears to be no indication of Haino-san stopping any time soon, In the Past… has a peculiar sense of the ultimate in its finality, and therein lies its remarkable success.


Album of the Day: Les Rallizes Dénudés – Cable Hogue Soundtrack

Audio from the eponymous 8mm/SOV compilation VHS released in the early 90s, Les Rallizes Dénudés’ Cable Hogue Soundtrack operates rather as a sonic comparison to Kurt Kren’s “Action Films” of the 1960s. Just as Kren’s silent video documentation of Otto Muehl and Günter Brus were not simply a beginning-to-end static recording of the performance, but rather engaged in volatile motion and violent jump cuts in an attempt to communicate the affect of the pieces, rather than just the content. It was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Here, listening to Cable Hogue Soundtrack, there is no meaningful beginning or end; everything is in media res. Indeed, various songs are repeated, it feels ad infinitum, but in accordance with Les Rallizes Dénudés’ mission statement of never playing a song the exact same way, from one gig to the next, it allows for the entire experience to be one of tracking variations on a theme, in the thick jungle of bootleg (/ quality) production values.

These two factors’ combination results in simultaneous impressions of the band’s ubiquity and obscurity, all the more bolstered by the fact that Les Rallizes Dénudés always appear to be far more invested in an accommodating pop sensibility than many (if any) of the Japanese psychedelic rock bands with whom I would most associate them (i.e Fushitsusha, Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O, YELLOW or Speed, Glue & Shinki). Then again, this pop sensibility – such as it is – cannot be understood as being at all akin to that of 60s Japanese bands such as The Jaguars, Savage, The Voltage or The Out Cast (of the G.S I Love You series fame). This is not necessarily approachable from the perspective of garage rock, surf or British invasion. It is pop music, but amongst whom it is popular remains unclear.

Accordingly, Cable Hogue Soundtrack, as with (or perhaps even more than) their other celebrated records, such Blind Baby Has its Mothers Eyes and Heavier Than a Death in the Family, does not give the impression of being at a Les Rallizes Dénudés show. Rather, it gives the impression of entering their space – a space you don’t quite understand. It gives the impression of a life defined by this band who fascinatingly seem to be so important and so ephemeral. This is as good an introduction as any to the invisible mark Les Rallizes Dénudés have left on rock music.

Album of the Day: Slint – Spiderland

There are exceedingly few reissues that could justify an accompanying introduction / photo album, let alone a documentary DVD. Perhaps what makes Slint’s inimitable swansong album warrant such attempts at contextualisation – even explanation – is the abundantly clear self-evidence of their inevitable frustration. There is no satisfactory context for Spiderland‘s conception. No credible delineation for its genesis. Whilst it certainly instigated a genre, known as post-rock, which has spawned masterful, political, affective, affirmative pearls, amongst a great deal of self-serious glorified-jam-band dreck,  the term “post-rock” when applied to Spiderland is not that of a genre. It is that of a spatio-temporal outsideness. A knowing, yet entirely genuine, form of disconnection that is held by the very smallest number of artists. Indeed, it is such a profoundly burdensome isolationism, the only comparisons that leap to mind are of solo artists such as Keiji Haino or Jandek (both, ironically, defined by a staggering prolificity – quite the opposite of Slint’s two albums and one two-track EP).

Spiderland truly is post-rock. Indeed, when scrabbling for effective subgeneric terms of classification, one cannot help but start landing on “new weird,” “southern gothic,” “dirty realism” – as much an audiobook that comfortably cohabits with various literary works of Thomas Ligotti, Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver, I dare suggest Spiderland may constitute post-music, itself. Whilst the natural immediate comparison to make, with regard the juxtaposition and at times transmogrification between spoken word / short story and experimental rock song is The Velvet Underground’s White Light / White Heat, the distinction in their respective production has a profound effect on one’s interpretation. Whilst tracks like “The Gift” and “Lady Godiva’s Operation” have verbal/vocal narrative and song structure in many ways competing for prominence (consider the left / right audio split in the former, and Lou Reed’s jolting intrusions on the latter), in a manner Slint themselves more or less emulate in their first album Tweez, particularly with songs like “Darlene,” which makes allowance for the pleasingly alternative cognitive dissonance of experimental chimp rock bands of the era, such as Polvo, Heatmiser, Kudgel and Swirlies, Spiderland is an album with virtually no fight left, and thus, no competition between juxtaposing elements.

Rather, both the short fiction format and the proto-math progressions address an abundance of power, but one would be hard-pressed to say the power is that of Slint’s themselves. The music often drowns out the vocals, and thus we try and listen through the music, to hear them. Thus, despite the dark exhilaration of some of Spiderland‘s doomy distortion, every aspect of the record still ultimately takes a seat in the back, allowing the crackle of the needle and the reverberations of your own thoughts to fill and become the zone of precarious, interstitial liminality between the real world and the titular Spiderland. Everywhere and everything is reticent pulsations of agitated depression, sporadically giving way to explosive cries of desperation. Every question asked of a void, every proclamation a suicide note. Spiderland is an assemblage of mortalities. It is eternal in its fatality, it is perfect in its entropy. Albums like it are few and far between and, for that, we can be grateful.

I’m trying to find my way home

I’m sorry
And I miss you

I miss you
I’ve grown taller now
I want the police to be notified
I’ll make it up to you
I swear, I’ll make it up to you


Lillian Gish – “O! A Double Majesty; Mine Shall Stand, and Play the Star to Stop Posterity”

AKA Put Your Fist in My Mouth

One of my favourite records James and I released as Lillian Gish – unlike so much else which forever placed us in the status of “studio-as-instrument” producer figures, this was a generative jam session: 20 minutes of me on drums and James on guitar, followed by 20 minutes of me on vocals and James on bass, followed by 20 minutes of me on ocarina, harmonium and electronics. This was released in the Summer of 2014, I believe in the same week as the Herculean-in-process And Sing Do the Ghosts of New Amsterdam, and the Ingénue / Alligator double-A side single.

“O! A Double Majesty” marks the climactic point of my lyrical experimentalism at this time, combining stream-of-consciousness writing on my part, with auto-generation care of, all of which was then cut-up, reorganised, at points reversed, printed on multiple sheets of paper, sung and riffed upon randomly at the time of recording – the tension between “pre-written song” and “free-form jam” I think quite accurately reflects the schizophrenic position of Lillian Gish at the time, having spent so much time working on quite stridently arranged recorded material, whilst performing live shows in increasingly abstract formats, in true Throbbing Gristle fashion, guaranteeing disappointment, either way.