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Keiji Haino / KK Null - Mamono

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Artist: Keiji Haino / KK Null

Album: Mamono

Label: Blossoming Noise

Review date: Mar. 13, 2007

Keiji Haino’s universe is as deep as it is vast, but I have to confess to infinitely preferring his undiluted conceptions, solo or with Fushitsusha, to most anything else the man has touched. While Haino’s collaborations illuminate different facets of his personality - and it does us well to remember that Haino is a particularly crafty cat whose every downward stroke on that Marshall-stacked guitar contains multitudes - they can sound compromised; sometimes they simply lack the power of Haino concentrate.

It doesn’t help that I’ve always struggled with KK Null. Something keeps me from loving his work: I appreciate his significance (ANP, Zeni Geva and so on are all ‘important’, if not all that ear catching in the greater scheme of things), but he’s one of those artists who inspires respect more than awe. And though Mamono thankfully doesn’t become a game of two sides, if some of Null’s electronics are muddy and predictable, and his vocals – forced through distortion and sometimes pushed via delay into rote arcs of shudder and groan – aren’t quite up to scratch.

For anyone seeking the heated rush of Haino’s guitar playing, Mamono will leave you feeling short-changed: with just 10 minutes on the instrument and some inexplicably bad use of flange through one piece, Haino’s not in the most devastating form. (I wonder if that’s an ass-backwards response to Null’s occasional reliance on pre-set FX.) But when Null and Haino battle on electronics, Haino also devoting some time to his primary love (his voice), things are pretty strong, the duo merging forcefields to create a massive rush of shivering, blistered circuits. And when the diminutive Haino throws drum-machine into the fray, as he does on the final two extended improvisations, the ball-bearings-rattling-in-a-pinball non-patterns he sometimes sources from the instrument are as boggling as you’d hope.

So, Mamono is and isn’t the kicker you’d expect from Haino and Null - plenty of potential, some brutally great moments, and chunks of filler. I guess I’ll hold out for Haino’s next solo blast for the full revelation, but Mamono is enough to work with for now.

By Jon Dale

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