So, after a busy days work, I come home tired and depressed, and what is there waiting for me? Only my most anticipated album of the year, which doesn’t even come out until July. Christmas has truly come.
First of all I want to express how stunning the record looks itself: designed by Stephen O’Malley, responsible for other beautiful records such as the previous Haino / Ambarchi / O’Rourke power trio releases, it cannot be enjoyed fully from just pictures. The artwork itself is something to be admired, but then just the little things like the layout of the track titles on the back, and the “なぞらない” (Nazoranai) glossed transparently on the front cover (invisible from the picture) just shows the effort he has gone to make the record a special entity.
From the start the listener gets the feel of the incredible musicianship and their ability to really play off each other, the first track builds and builds, but remains suitable calm for its entirety. Throughout it there is the overwhelming understanding of quiet and tranquility, and completely contrasted with Haino‘s screeched and wails, but works perfectly. The mastering on this seems to me to have stepped up from the previous “power trio” releases, and the substitution of O’Malley stepping in for O’Rourke is a vast improvement in my opinion – although I really enjoy the LP’s he features playing bass on, O’Malley really is a master of this style, this maybe because it is alot more audible but he does a fantastic job. Because of him the whole record is so much more heavier, and he really brings it – most notable in the second track, where the bass plays this really doom-metal oriented riff alongside the drums and it just makes me think “YES, this is what this trio needed”.
Haino’s guitar playing remains the same, with harsh and discordant sections making the rhythm section really sink into its groove, and grind perfectly abrasively by giving order through destruction, as it really sounds like he is laying waste to his guitar. It’s hard to believe that the whole performance is improvised, of course there are free sections and similar tell-tale signs, but the tracks themselves stand together incredibly strongly. Definitely the most prominent thing during the performance is the synchronization between O’Malley and Ambarchi: Keiji in all of his releases keeps to doing his own thing (although he does a superb job of inter-locking it with the other musicians) but here the connection among the rhythm section is just remarkable. I would honestly recommend this album to anyone who plays a musical instrument, as it demonstrates perfectly the great ability of playing “as one” with various different people as this LP is a prime example by all accounts. Another thing that they bring to the table in this release is the harmonized vocals, I might be wrong but I can’t recall any on previous releases, used on the final track. These are one of the many things that make this record superior to any previous effort, as they pile up mystical sounds and atmosphere to the picture that they have already created in the over-an-hour set. Unintelligible but fascinating, with post-rock-esque guitar work by Haino in the finale – really simple and unusually clean for him, and eerie. The final track really is something else.
This LP is already one of my favorites of the year so far – instantly grabbing, interesting for any musician, and pushing the boundaries of the power trio even further forward. Nazoranai officially comes out on July 2nd, on Ideologic Organ (a sub-label of Editions Mego, owned by Stephen O’Malley himself), and I cannot recommend picking up a copy enough, especially as it will sell-out fast and you might receive it early like I did – http://editionsmego.com/release/SOMA009