Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Keiji Haino Experience

Even though Japan is much closer here than the United States. The ratio between people who know who is Keiji Haino and those who don’t is probably the same here in the Philippines, as is in the U.S.

By: Vanessa Uy

I’ve read somewhere that Keiji Haino’s albums are only available as very expensive, as far as music formats go for mail order imports. It’s also not released locally here. In our country, it surprises me that even accomplished rock and jazz guitarists I know who have regular gigs in Japan haven’t heard of Keiji Haino.

So far, I’ve listened to Haino’s solo live album titled “A Challenge To Fate,” and from his regular group Fushitsusha via “The Caution Appears” and “Allegorical Misunderstanding” albums. My memory is somewhat hazy about a Keiji Haino live concert laser disc circa 1989 I’ve seen in an electronic store demo a few months ago.

Describing Keiji Haino’s guitar playing sound and technique via journalistic scribbling is akin to a comparison to seeing the aurora borealis first hand and of seeing one on a video monitor. There are things in life that you have to experience for yourself. Even though Haino, either solo or with Fushitsusha might be the most unique sounding performers in the world who use conventional rock instruments like amplified guitars (Marshall stacks, of course) bass guitars and rock music drum kits. They have a Black Sabbath meets John Coltrane style as described by the music journalist who care enough to give them coverage. Although to me, Keiji Haino and Fushitsusha sound like a band who lived in a parallel universe, where aspiring rock bands not only idolize Sabbath but also John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I think Keiji Haino’s very unique style might cause a loss of translation to the uninitiated.

Even though their contribution to the world of electric guitar music remains unknown to the “Billboard Chart” universe. Keiji Haino and the rest of Fushitsusha probably influenced heavy metal bands, especially progressive ones, during the latter half of the 1980’s onwards. I even suspect that Avril Lavigne’s “Under My Skin” album owes it’s Marshall stack feedback sound to Haino’s 1989 period live guitar sound.

I’ve also read somewhere that Keiji Haino savors the mystique surrounding him. That he shuns the limelight. So don’t expect him to be seen hanging out with the likes of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. Maybe for him, it’s all about the music.

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