Saturday, June 8, 2024

SUMAC's "The Healer" & West Coast Tour: Jun 22 - Jul 1

Few bands or artists can claim to have collaborated with the icon of experimental guitar music from Japan. Keiji Haino's influence and scope of styles and genres are matched by few artists in the late 20th century, all of which pivot around the haunting spaciousness of his vocal style and singular approach to the instrument. Hydrahead label maven Aaron Turner, and frontman to the post-metal supergroup SUMAC, can make such a claim. On titles taken from the Keiji Haino conceptual stylebook, like "American Dollar Bill: Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous to Look at Face On", "Even for Just the Briefest Moment / Keep Charging this "Expiation" / Plug in to Making it Slightly Better", and "Into this Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood to Pour Let Us Never", for the labels Trost and Thrill Jockey, the music of SUMAC have intersected with the vertiginous blistering heights and spacial emptiness of Haino's guitar. Astronomical metaphors are abundant in The Quietus' review of their most recent collaboration, suggesting the impossible physics of celestial bodies kept in elliptical orbits around larger masses, "In Space No-One Can Hear You: Keiji Haino & SUMAC". The resulting album in one drenched in a kind of temperamental energies, one that resonates from its monumental collision of styles that is neither conclusive and doom-ful, nor is it ecstatic in its energies, but one of flotsam and shrapnel of crashing currents of energy resonating outwards from the frisson and gnash of its two colliding forms. More than just a framing device and architectural foundation for the Japanese guitarist's freeform explorations, the monolithic structures of SUMAC are a force of their own. On solo albums for the two above mentioned labels, they have explored their own brand of metal hybridization, encompassing the influences of their originating projects, namely Russian Circles and Baptists, along with Aaron Turner, delivered the first of their works for Profound Lore with 2015's "The Deal". Few artists have been in this game longer, or produced more variations to its corpus, than Aaron Turner. Following on Hydrahead, his SIGE label has become a home for all things weighty, from experimental noise, to neo-folk, and pure metal, and genreless explorations of sound. These are all touchpoints in his interview with The Quietus, when discussing another of the metal variations which he leads, "Elemental Absolution: Old Man Gloom’s Aaron Turner". They have also toured almost unceasingly since the pandemic, returning to Seattle at Substation, the Bar House, and now at Clockout Lounge, there have been three opportunities to witness the weight of their sound live, in as many years. The most recent is on the eve of the release of this month's "The Healer" for Thrill Jockey, in which Treble magazine states; "they come closest to that emotionally pure, sacred quality they’ve been reaching toward, feeling gravity’s pull as they graze the heavens".