Boomkat Product Review:
Round 5 of the fearsome trio’s massed gatherings in Japan is also one of their most diverse. The passages of Haino on bulgari are spellbinding, recalling Jozef Van Wissem or a more gothic Dariush Dolat Shahi
“The remarkable series of releases from the trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi continues with I wonder if you noticed "I'm sorry" Is such a lovely sound It keeps things from getting worse, which presents the entirety of an 80-minute set performed at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe in March 2014. While the trio's 2012 performance was divided into two releases (BT 011LP (2014) and BT 012LP (2015)), the single extended performance presented here ranges widely over terrain both new and familiar, from acoustic strings and collective chants to thunderous power trio moves. Throughout all of its transformations, the music here is some of the riskiest and most abstract the trio have yet committed to record. Beginning with chiming percussion reminiscent of Haino's 1995 classic Tenshi No Gijinka, the first side is dominated by Haino's impassioned vocals and performance on the bulgari, a traditional Turkish string instrument.
The end of the second side presents a special treat: Haino's first recorded outing on the contrabass harmonica, from which he coaxes bizarre, wheezing textures against a backdrop of spacious bass and percussion. O'Rourke and Ambarchi rarely adopt here the classic rock roles essayed on earlier releases. O'Rourke's bass, which takes center-stage surprisingly often, is sometimes so heavily processed by his array of pedals that it becomes a shifting electronic mass; at other times his roving chromaticism suggests a sort of fuzzed-out free jazz. Ambarchi spends much of the set exploring areas of tumbling free pulse; and even when he locks into a constantly repeated figure on the set's third side, he gestures as much toward Ronald Shannon Jackson's stuttering marching band funk as toward any classic rock moves. When the trio finally moves in the final quarter of the performance into an extended passage of rock riffing, the payoff is immense, as they craft a thudding one-chord epic reminiscent of some of the early Fushitsusha classics before Haino returns to the bulgari, bringing the set back to where it began. Continuing to explore new instrumental and dynamic possibilities while remaining grounded in the trio's previous work, this set also brings with it a unique pleasure for the non-Japonophone listener: for the first time Haino sings many of his metaphysically brooding lyrics in English.”