Essential New Music: Keiji Haino + SUMAC’s “American Dollar Bill—Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On”

It had to happen. Keiji Haino has played with folk musicians and Faust, Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet and Merzbow. Sooner or later, he had to play with a metal band, right? Well, half right. SUMAC isn’t just any metal band. While the trio’s members wield the tools of 21st-century metal with a facility born of close acquaintance, they don’t sound like any other metal combo. They don’t just sing about chaos, they enact it, which means they’re well matched to master disrupter Haino.

On American Dollar Bill, Haino carries on like some demon apparition from a Noh play, shrieking and cooing and exhaling. Rather than try to wedge what Haino does into song form, SUMAC makes the songs fall apart. The band’s riffs and solos topple like old growth redwoods unmoored by a mudslide, and when Haino drops his mic to join the fray on guitar and electronics, the collapse is complete.

—Bill Meyer