Sumac, Keiji Haino join again for explosive, improvised chaos on ‘Into This Juvenile Apocalypse…’

Photo by Kazuyuki Funaki

I read an interview with Alice Cooper once who was ruminating on how to create a song and the formula of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-rinse-repeat that he obviously sticks to and has worked for tons of artists. I’m not criticizing Alice, as I get what he’s saying, but there is more than one way to create art, and a song should not necessarily have to answer to rigid guidelines in order to be considered worthy.

I adore Alice (his music; not his politics), but his head would explode if he had to endure “Into This Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood to Pour Let Us Never,” the third collaboration between Sumac and Japanese free-form artist Keiji Haino. I fear his formulaic heart would explode if he encountered these six tracks that run nearly an hour combined and absolutely challenge what you might think a song should be. That’s hardly new territory for Sumac—guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner, bassist Brian Cook, drummer Nick Yacyshyn—and Haino, but on this collaboration, they went a step further, setting up live at the Astoria Hotel in Vancouver and creating spontaneously with no one knowing what would transpire. The effects are awe inspiring, inventive, and intimidating, a record that requires multiple visits to even begin absorbing in full. That’s honestly half the fun.

“When logic rises morality falls Logic and morality in Japanese are but one character different” is your 12:11-long opener, flowing open and wandering, delving into noise howls and pulsating scrapes that feels like they’re eating into your ribcage. Haino’s howls break any serenity, drunken guitars sprawl, and the sounds crash to earth like a wounded satellite, brining pattering power before everything dissolves into calm. “A shredded coiled cable within this cable sincerity could not be contained” dawns in feedback squalls as the drums lumber, and the playing sends jolts through your nervous system. Plucked strings feel like they’re poking as your psyche, then Turner’s unmistakable roar breaks through barriers, letting the chaos build and the noise hammer. Further howls blister, the playing sizzles and fries, and the drums plaster as the full assault slips into the clouds. The title track runs 11:47 and slowly comes to life, letting the pressure collect and the guitars spread in calculated manner. Connections rattle as blood collects in your eardrums, bending and blinding, the drums turning everything into a fine paste. The power scorches, the elements pummel, and its juices are poured into the planet’s core.

“Because the evidence of a fact is valued over the fact itself truth??? becomes fractured” is the longest track at 12:13, fading in from oblivion and trickling as Haino howls relentlessly, repeating his mantras as the playing develops a sense of dread. The sound feels like it melts into a metallic pool, swinging through dreamier passages before stopping at wiry impulses that emerge from the fog. The storm seems to increase as the playing begins to melt, electric jabs raise flesh, and everything grows moody and misty before disappearing. “That fuzz pedal you planted in your throat, its screw has started to come loose Your next effects pedal is up to you do you have it ready?” is a complete blizzard of noise as it enters, chugging and mauling, the roars detonating. Feedback scales as the playing develops a jet engine vitality, Haino wails toward the heavens, and the lapping power seeks to pull you under, ending in a bed of sonic annihilation. Closer “That ‘regularity’ of yours, can you throw it further than me? And I don’t mean ‘discarding’ it” is the shortest track, running 5:37 and unleashing doom that coats the earth. The drumming sprawls as the ripple of fury tortures your brain, teasing and releasing, leaving you charred.

This new collaboration between Sumac and Keiji Haino is something that’s astonishing to accept at face value, and once you realize the particulars of how this piece came together, it’s even more mind blowing to absorb. “Into This Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood to Pour Let Us Never” is hard to compare to their two previous excursions because it’s its own beast, something that can’t be measured regarding other creations. It’s an experience to behold, preferably alone, maybe with an altered mind, as there is so much here to endure, that undivided attention is the only gift you can offer these artists who left all of what they had on the stage. Song formulas be damned to hell.

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