The second disc (by catalog number, although recorded during the same July-August, 2010 sessions) by Haino Keiji's new trio Seijaku manages to be a surprise even after hearing the first. On Mail from FUSHITSUSHA Haino presented a band and a set of songs using tight, if disjointed, structures and suggesting blues formulae more strongly even than on the 2004 "Black Blues" albums of blues covers. On You Should Prepare to Survive Through Even Anything Happens, he and bassist Nasuno Mitsuru and drummer Ichiraku Yoshimitsu very nearly play straight-ahead rock songs. It's not as easy as a four-line verse followed by a four-line chorus, but it's not too removed from that, either.
The songs are, of course, despondent and occasionally brutal, and no different should be expected from the man who's embodied electric darkness and despair since the early 70s. Haino's still not quite Eric Burdon, but the songs follow predictable strategies of give-and-take, call-and-response, A to the B and back to the A again. Which in the case of someone who's CDs used to reliably include no more than a single track is fairly refreshing. His new band is taut, they jab where Fushitsusha worked in waves. And the constructions they're given are realized to a tee.
On Mail..., Haino premiered his lap steel playing, and here his harmonica is no more studied. There's a bit of comic abandon to his harp work, but not so much as to take away from the overall album. And really harmonicas are always kind of funny, aren't they? The name "Seijaku" can be translated as "serenity in the midst of activity," and while Haino tends to work with his own rules of translation and implication, the band could be seen as a bit of form within the chaotic activity of his work. Which is to say it's not separate from but encased within. And continues, in its way, to be an intriguing challenge.
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