by Evan Welsh (@evanswelsh15)
Returning not only to their incredibly long-winded album and track titles, but also to their improvisational, doom-steeped metal, Keiji Haino & SUMAC return with Even for just the briefest moment, an album split into four tracks, capturing the collaborators' behemothic live performance from Tokyo in 2017.
The quick, and quietly nerve-wracking, “Interior Interior Interior Interior…” opens the album by primarily highlighting a sharply-timbered flute that unravels further into bedlam as the track progresses with brushed drums and the occasional stroke of an underlying guitar. The second track re-introduces listeners to the familiar sludge explored on the collaborators’ last album—Haino and SUMAC’s heavy-as-hell guitars noisily flail alongside trudging drums and bass until about the 10-minute mark, where the pace begins to build and build until pieces of the band seem to fly off eventually we are left with the drums at the center with the bass laying an underlying feeling of doom, dragging behind it the shattered remainders of the guitars.
The title track, the longest song on the album at roughly 30-minutes, is an anticipated slow burn. The song eerily crawls, growing naturally in noise and vigor until the group, around 16-minutes in, is fully-flexing and annihilating everything in their path by sheer force. The song then breathes a little, as Haino performs spoken, often screamed, word over the drums, with waving electronics and the drums in the background. The track moves through a few more peaks and valleys of energy before finding its end. The final song “(first half)/Once, twice, thrice/…” is the most brooding of the collection, and also where Haino’s vocals are the most central—musically the song never reaches the same levels of chaos as its predecessors, but Haino’s visceral performance makes up for it in spades.
This is an album that will have lovers of American Dollar Bill wholly content—recorded during the same period of their initial partnering, Even for just the briefest moment offers a similarly experimental, improvisational and crushing experience. It is yet to be seen whether or not the two will come together to record new material in the future, or if the archives from this period in 2017 have more music to offer. The single certainty is that whenever Haino & SUMAC get together, they make a lot of noise, violently releasing energy for art’s sake, and isn’t that all that we can ask of them?