SUMAC feature an impressive calibre of members, (Isis, Baptists, Russian Circles), so it’s a real shame I’ve never encountered any of their work previous to this. Keiji Haino I’m even more unfamiliar with, but it seems he has built up a significant body of work and collaborative projects over time.
So basically, I’m coming to this release pretty much fresh from expectations.
This is 67 minutes of experimental post-metal, taking in ambient, noise, drone, and free-form progressive jazz workouts as it goes along. The entire thing has the feeling of an intense, yet also paradoxically relaxed jam session. Equally paradoxically, the music comes across as at once very focused, but also allowed a freedom to wander where it chooses, creating and tearing down soundscapes as it twists and turns throughout its lengthy playing time.
All of the musicians are skilled at what they do. They’d have to be in order to keep something like this from degenerating into a random mess of noises and experimental dead ends. I feel compelled to single out the drumming for particular praise too, as the percussive mayhem that’s unleashed across these tracks is very impressive.
The vocals are chanted, sung, whispered, squealed, screamed, and otherwise delivered through all manner of other vocalisations, seemingly unleashed as the mood takes the singer.
This is an evocative album, one that revels in crafting transient soundscapes that frequently exist only for a matter of moments before their creators tire of them and move on to the next. It’s as if the artists are sonic explorers, searching for something just out of reach. What this might end up being, they probably don’t know themselves.
A dizzying, mind-bending ride into places unknown, one that’s surprisingly satisfying and rewarding.