Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fushitsusha - Origin's Hesitation

One of my favorite groups, but not for everyone. If you don't like your musical preconceptions pushed to the limit, steer clear away. This is one of their most difficult records.

"Japanese guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Keiji Haino had been a prominent figure in the Tokyo underground since the mid-'70s before forming this incredible group that stands as one of Japan's most inventive and extraordinary and powerful groups of the era. Their work draJws on noise,rock, free improvisation, and psychedelia, yet they sculpt their group sound in a fashion that their music is relative to few forms. In fact, the sound of Fushitsusha could best be described as contemporary Japanese music as some of their modalities and vigorous improvisational manner reflects the Japanese folk and traditional formulas. On the other hand, the electricity and refined indulgence of their feedback drenched albums and live concerts bares similarities to early Sonic Youth and the Swans, yet is as challenging as avant-garde improvisation. Sonny Sharrock's Black Woman and Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun are good points of reference, as are Captain Beefheart, Guru Guru, or even Can.

Fushitsusha is part of a continuum in Japanese avant-garde music that was developing in the '60s with noisy improvisational groups such as Group Ongaku, Taj Mahal Travellers, and, most notably, New Direction Unit, who were versed in a free-form noise dialect that went beyond the free jazz movement to higher and more unsettling places. Where Fushitsusha fit into the spectrum of rock, noise, and avant-garde could be pondered for hours. The conclusion, in most cases, could only be that they are a phenomenon of an incredibly creative force in leader Keiji Haino, who has forged some of the most magnificent avant-garde recordings of the '90s seemingly out of blood, sweat, and tears. As a solo performer, he has such an extraordinary and singular approach one could only compare him to an artist like Cecil Taylor, as his work is all-consuming, brutally passionate, and individual. " - Skip Jansen

"Expectations exploded, intentions fleetingly revealed, faith justified. A new album from Keiji Haino's Fushitsusha is always going to be a major event. And to make the release of Origin's Hesitation even more significant, it is the first new album from the group in almost two years, the first studio recordings by the new duo line-up, and the first Fushitsusha album on PSF since 1994's stunning Pathetique. The popular perception of Fushitsusha has usually been as a rock band, albeit one that pushed the definition of that term further than anyone had ever done before. While the group's approach has always been (and remains) rock to the core, the outside manifestation of those intentions have gradually moved further and further away from the rock framework. Shockingly, on this release, Haino takes the process to its natural conclusion and has decided to eschew the guitar entirely. In its place, nothing but the eerily empty hiss of overdriven amplification. Here Haino sings, plays drums, and conjures with spectres. Consequently, the sound palette is starker, and Haino's intentions plainer than they have ever been before. The no overdubs policy remains, though both Haino and bassist Ozawa work with realtime loops. The unique dynamic hallmarks of the group are preserved, the focus on individual sounds and their interaction underlined. Attack, duration, beginnings and endings all merge into one heartrending, emotionally eternal present. This is a hugely important, hauntingly insistent, spectral blast of a record. Quite simply and beyond any doubts, one of the releases of the year." - Alan Cummings

Two Exist