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KEIJI HAINO & SITAAR TAH! – Animamima (aRCHIVE Recordings/Important Records)

Posted: June 13th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

Having been seduced by nice packaging, the breathless recommendation of the record-store staff, and the loose purse-strings that payday always brings, however briefly, I took this album home wondering if I’d made a wise purchase. Having seen Haino perform at Glasgow’s Instal festival a couple of years ago, I knew that it would be an interesting record, if not an especially pleasant one to listen to. I was concerned that, having been played once, it would end up on on eBay, or, worse still, egregiously keep around solely for “my record collection is better than your record collection”-type bragging rights.

Man, was I wrong.

Which isn’t to say that this album marks Haino’s embracing of the pop song, but nor is it the straight-up unstructured guitar-noise that I had come to expect, and realize that I didn’t much enjoy listening to particularly often. Instead, it is an unexpectedly beautiful thing which builds slowly from a bare tickling of the ears to a powerful meditative thrum that made me feel quite peculiar. Staring into space for extended periods as it repeatedly found sympathetic frequencies within my skull, I felt oddly refreshed after taking off my headphones, as though I had just undergone the aural equivalent of being driven through a car-wash.

Sitaar Tah!, as the name suggests, are a 20 piece sitar orchestra, who, over the course of Animamima’s two tracks (One per disc. Both recorded live.) make wonderful drones which rise and fall like tides, while Haino is handed the keys to the school music department’s store cupboard and left to his own devices, adding, among other things, occasional flute, vocals, and electric hurdy-gurdy, precisely when required and never more.

Once in a while, a record comes along that reminds you why you are a music nerd in the first place. Animamima is a refreshing glass of ice-water after the dry cream-crackers of endless soundalike “The” bands.

aRCHIVE Recordings
Important Records

Alex McChesney

Alex was brought up by a family of stupid looking monkeys after being lost in the deep jungles of Paisley. Teaching him all their secret conga skills (as well as how to throw barrels at plumbers), Alex was able to leave for the bright lights of Glasgow where adventure struck him and he needed all his conga skills to save the world and earn the hand of a lovely Texan princess. He now keeps a low profile alphabeticising his record collection and making sock monkeys in the likenesses of his long lost family.


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