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Keiji Haino, one of the most visionary and individual voices in the Japanese psychedelic, noise and improv underground, was born in Chiba and has lived in Tokyo for most of his life. His long-standing, venerated career has navigated a wide array of styles and instrumentations, but over the course of its many-sided trajectory has nevertheless consistently reflected a determined quest for transcendence, disassociation and spiritual self-knowledge through sound.
Following a period of devotion to experimental theatre as a teenager, Haino saw Jim Morrison perform and decided that his own destined medium was rock music. His first band, Lost Aaraaff, was named after a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. For Haino, much of the 1970s served as an incubation period of sorts; then, in 1978, he emerged again as a public performer with his rock duo, Fushitsusha. Over the next several decades he would establish many other musical groups, including Aihiyo, formed in 1998, Varja and Sanhedolin.
Haino’s output as a solo artist has been just as extensive. He considers himself a vocalist first and foremost, but guitar has also played a central role in his performances and recordings from the beginning. The eclecticism of his achievements and the broadness of his vision are both owed to and reflected by his wide pool of influences, among them medieval Troubador music, Marlene Dietrich, Billie Holiday, Iannis Xenakis, Syd Barrett and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Despite the “voraciously globe-swallowing” (according to RBMA) nature of his music, Haino’s creative impulses still have strong local ties to Japan; he is deeply influenced by both traditional Butoh dancing and “ma”, the Japanese concept of empty space and silence in music. He has collaborated with Faust, Peter Brötzmann, Boris, Lee Konitz, Stephen O’Malley, Merzbow, Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, John Zorn, and Fred Frith.