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Keiji Haino in London with Charles Hayward and John Butcher

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Keiji Haino
Copeland Gallery with Charles Hayward
July 8, 2016
Cafe Oto with John Butcher
July 9, 2016
London, England

Keiji Haino, guitarist and founder of Japanese experimental-psychedelic rock band Fushitsusha and reputed experimental musician who has recorded with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Sabu Toyozumi, and Thurston Moore, performed in London for two nights on July 8th at the Copeland Gallery and July 9th at Cafe Oto.

On Friday July 8 at the Copeland Gallery, as part of Thirty Three Thirty Three's Japan: London 2016 series, Haino performed with drummer and percussionist Charles Hayward. Hayward, a founding member of experimental rock band This Heat, also played piano as the duo improvised outside of any time structure, opening the evening with interspacial explorations. Haino, with sudden eruptions of distortion and feedback, improvised poetry in Japanese, singing and wailing words and phrases that were at once mesmerizing and shocking. Hayward's form on the drums was dynamic and explosive, reminiscent of European and American free jazz. Haino twisted and bent guitar tones, using air synth theremins to create controlled waves of feedback like the sounds of crying birds.

On Saturday July 9 at Café Oto, Haino opened his first set of the evening with an expressive performance of solo percussion. Using cymbals that he crashed together and scraped on the cement floor, he incorporated improvised dance and vocalizations. Alternating with a doumbek and drum kit, the timbral vibrations caused equipment near the stage area to fall to the ground, and he sometimes hit the bass drum head so hard that it seemed to have broken.

The second set was Haino's second ever performance with London saxophonist John Butcher, their first earlier this year in Hong Kong. Improvised experimentation, Haino treated his Gibson SG guitar strings with tape, also playing bamboo flutes. Butcher created loops with electronics and was able to get resonance simply by putting his tenor saxophone close to a microphone and manipulating its keys without blowing into the mouthpiece. Using his air synth theremins Haino created waves and loops of feedback through his amplifiers that Butcher played against with his soprano saxophone, Haino accompanying him with a small oboe-like instrument. When the set drew to a close, the music seemed to end suddenly. There was no sense of logic, only silence where the tension seemed to build, then finally release.

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