For every artist I interview, I always ask them who they think is important in the Tokyo music scene. Haino Keiji (or Keiji Haino) seems to come up quite often. Hailed as one of Japan’s greatest improvisers, Haino Keiji has been performing in Japan for decades.
Limiting a description of Haino Keiji to a single performance would be a narrow sight and an unfulfilling blip on the vast screen of his repertoire. Unfortunately, my scope of Haino Keiji’s career is limited to my experience at Earthdom in July 2007.
Haino Keiji Live @ Earthdom Shin-Okubo, Tokyo 7/8/07
A noise guru, Haino Keiji emits an aura of spiritual master and sonic sensei. Blood curdling screams and jagged guitar massacres were sandwiched between two madmen on drum kits (one being Kovu of Kirihito). Haino set loops of distorted bangs and heavy drones that jolted the listener through what sounded like a psychopath’s passionate exorcism. I didn’t know how to react to this cacophony of rawness. It felt like having a chafed brain and the only reasonable thing to do would be to vomit. Maybe it’s a matter of opinion whether that’s a good thing or not, but Haino Keiji’s spasmatic improvisations certainly sent my head into a demonic state of confusion and awe.
As I mentioned before, Haino Keiji is hailed as an improvisational guru, but I have to say that my expectations were higher than his delivery. In order to give a fair assessment and review of Haino Keiji, I have to have a much broader education on his music. Tokyo’s music scene has a respect for this man that I could not understand from my single experience. However, if you have a chance, I would suggest going to see Haino Keiji because his performance is nothing short of an experience.