Review Summary: Heavier than a death in the family (revision)
In the age where unions of one's wildest dreams come true, Keiji Haino and Sumac's collaborative effort American Dollar Bill - Keep Looking Sideways, You're Too Hideous to Look at Face On
is dangerous, destructive, burning, with no fucks to be offered to a weary onlooker. For those expecting a good time: you are getting something you will struggle with at first, Haino's influence being very apparent — from the album title, and all the way to the format of the group's songs. Sumac fans: you may (not) like this record for this reason alone. Haino fans: this is yet another Keiji Haino work, and at this point, you ought to have an idea of what the guitarist's aim on American Dollar Bill
is; it's not going to be the same old, same old but it'll be a Keiji Haino record nonetheless.
American Dollar Bill's
devotion lies in the artists' abilities to follow Haino's highly improvisational song structure and use of dynamics; the album's title track focuses entirely on setting this pattern in motion with no regard to proper accessibility nor conventional sounds, with Haino's guttural shrieks juxtaposing with Sumac's overdriven thrashing before moving onto another section of the piece. One moment, you are offered a vague moment of gentle salvation, the next you're thrown into the fiery pits of whatever godforsaken circle of hell Haino and co. currently occupy. But that's okay; it's only the beginning — you've yet to hear the other four slabs of distorted riffage they have to offer. Riffage is putting it nicely, when for a matter of fact, it's a blistering onslaught of notes strung together so perfectly with the equally fierce work of Aaron Turner to compliment Haino's often-barked, seldom-whined vocals.
Haino and company rarely follow the same formula with each passing song, taking the time to find ways to distinguish each one from one another; but with the multi-part "I'm Over 137% A Love Junkie and Still It's Not Enough," the band finds itself not in a rut, but in a groove of some kind. They take their time getting to their destination, with Haino often being the guide — throat-shredding howls none withstanding — to reaching the next part of their slow burned and twisted route from dissonance to chaos. Yet, what happens when the final segment "What Have I Done" (I Was Reeling In Something White and I Became Able To Do Anything I Made a Hole Imprisoned Time Within It Created Friction Stopped Listening To Warnings Ceased Fixing My Errors Made the Impossible Possible" Turned Sadness Into Joy) Pt. II" comes around to let Haino and co. that all things must come to an end" Well, they leave all restraint into the ether and unleash such a fearsome assault on an audience both willing to receive it and greatly aware of the discomforting qualities the music contains. It's a epilogue to fifty-plus minutes of unending nervosity and raw power that leaves one in awe at what they're hearing. I am not a verbose man, but to describe this group's efforts as excellent or even superb doesn't do their record proper. American Dollar Bill
is the record to the end of the world, maybe even to the world as it is right now. If it makes you afraid, then that's very okay. They probably want it that way.