Release Date: Feb 23, 2018
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Jazz, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Heavy Metal, Experimental Rock, Noise-Rock, Sludge Metal, Free Improvisation, Post-Metal
You're dancing where the dogs decay, defecating ecstasy. 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.
American Dollar Bill - Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous to Look at Face On contains several lengthy extracts from a series of improvised sessions by legendary guitar terrorist Keiji Haino and post-metal trio Sumac, featuring Aaron Turner of Isis. The entire album is a relentless torrent of bitterness, despair, and frustration at the system, with Haino's full-throttle screaming matched by the intensity of Sumac's surround-sound sludge. This is completely harsh, brutal, and disorienting, and not for one moment does it ever sound boring, uninspired, or pointless.
There's always some risk with improvised music, the pursuit of structural abandonment an endeavor that will either generate unfiltered nuggets of aural gold, document a singular creative moment or peek, or produce self-indulgent, unlistenable garbage. A pioneering figure in musical experimentation and improv, Keiji Haino could be seen as having done all three, his prolific, creative spirit and penchant for collaboration granting him boundless opportunities to impress or alienate. With that said, Haino's name attached to a SUMAC project caught my attention.
In the Summer of 2017, Sumac entered the studio with Japanese avant-garde legend Keiji Haino to record what they describe as "a series of unrehearsed, completely non-premeditated sessions". The resulting collaboration is a wildly experimental and violent display of guitars, percussion and vocals that pushes at the boundaries of noise and metal. American Dollar Bill is not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an often thrilling and extraordinary one.