If you're like me, you were already interested in this recording based on the names of the musicians involved. Oren Ambarchi is an unparalleled guitar deconstructionist from Australia, Jim O'Rourke needs little introduction as a noisemaker or as a former member of Gastr del Sol and Sonic Youth, and the singular force that calls himself Keiji Haino is a musician of often terrifying capacity and intensity. All three are outstanding improvisers, and this live recording from January 2009 in Kitakyushu, Japan reveals this trio to be a deftly intuitive and gratifyingly mysterious grouping.
Ambarchi and Haino are instantly recognizable in most musical configurations, but the musicians do a good job here of subsuming their personalities within the structure of the group. Here in this live setting, Ambarchi and O'Rourke create glassy drones that reflect off of each other, often sounding particularly different from Ambarchi's thunderously bassy solo work. The long first piece has its peaceful feeling slowly undermined by Haino's first vocal utterances. Here he eschews the dark, maniacal screaming characteristic of his work with Fushitsusha for a soothing, choral sound, and the music takes on a deeply spiritual feel. The shorter second piece showcases Ambarchi and O'Rourke, while the third piece allows Haino to serve as prime mover through its thirty-one minutes of glorious meandering; his voice and electronics are somehow spectral and substantive at the same time, and they pull the piece along with an irrevocable momentum.
Haino's voice ultimately steals the show, casting a large shadow that both O'Rourke and Ambarchi capably play with. But O'Rourke's treated piano is the quiet centerpiece of the trio, showing great range in sound, blending impossibly well with Ambarchi's thick tones to create a series of drones that flow and shimmer steadily throughout this performance. Throughout this performance Ambarchi, O'Rourke, and Haino demonstrate excellent listening abilities in addition to their formidable techniques. After hearing this disc, we can only hope for another--this release is no bloated, forced supergroup conglomeration, but rather a vital addition to the discographies of all three individuals. 8/10 -- Mike Griffin (2 June, 2010)