Keiji Haino - Watashi Dake?
Ready or not, Keiji Haino has returned. It is with great pleasure and excitement that we now come to you with Keiji Haino's Watashi Dake?, the inaugural release from Black Editions comprehensive reissue series focused on Japan's legendary P.S.F record label. P..S.F was founded in 1984 by Hideo Ikeezumi with the intention of providing a haven for “music that refused to limit itself to genres, that had zero commercialism, that possessed kokoro (heart), and that had a feeling of freedom.” Although Watashi Dake? was not the labels’ debut release, it seems that it may be a fitting first for Black Editions in that it sums up Ikeezumi's intentions without fail. This is an extreme album, almost impossible to define and has just as much in common with what Haino was reaching for as it does not. In a recent interview with Haino to mark the launch of the label he stated, “I had this really strong conviction that I wanted to record a 1920s country blues record that hadn’t yet been made. If I am going to be compared or placed in some genre, there is all kinds of rock, and there’s classical and jazz. But, for me, I wanted to be put in the country blues section at Meruridō” (an influential, early Tokyo record store that imported hard to find western records). However it is almost impossible to believe that upon its release that any person would hear this music and define it as country blues. What Haino achieved was a reflection and an inversion of his country blues influence, in a language that is singular to himself and impossible to replicate. My best attempts to describe this album by comparison would be that it falls somewhere between Jandek and Einsturzende Neubauten's best attempt of making a pre-war folk record. Take a Blind Willie Johnson album and place it in front of a fun-house mirror that sits in David Lynch's Black Lodge and you may be getting closer to understanding what lies ahead withWatashi Dake?
Black Editions has replicated the originally intended layout and design of this album complete with the first ever translation of Haino's lyrics on Black-on-Black paper. These barely legible lyrics serve as a statement that it really doesn't matter what he's saying, what matters is the kokoro. This is an album of intense emotion, and in that sense, it sits next to any blues album quite easily. The pain and strife that lay the foundation for any country blues album now has an audible equivalent. Consider this either an invitation or a warning. Black Editions is here and is offering the same escape from the ordinary that P.S.F had dedicated themselves to over 30 years ago. (Adam)
Check out a track here.