Keiji Haino & Sumac – American Dollar Bill


Keiji Haino & Sumac - American Dollar Bill (Thrill Jockey) 2018


There’s a sense of hostility that underpins much of American Dollar Bill; it’s there in Haino’s cauterised howls, a litany of PTSD poetics punctuated with mangled blues and negative space; it’s in Aaron Turner’s burrs of noise and guttural, droning sludge; you can hear it as Brian Cook slowly ramps up tension before releasing in each frantic kit-drubbing.

It’s hostile against sound, against form and even against the precepts of improvisation, with “I’m Over 137%… pt. II” seeing the quartet sink deep into an otherworldly blues jam that, for all its organic flow, possesses a keen sense of structure and pace. It’s strange, then, that a work this focused and complete could only be created by four staunch individualists working in absurd, uneasy harmony but that’s what we have here – an hour of wonderful, baffling contradictions.

Words: Dave Bowes
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