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music

Keiji Haino

KEIJI HAINO IS AN OBSCURANTIST’S dream. He has a supernally cool, all-black surface—knee-length leather jackets, Beatle boots, stovepipe pants, Ray-Bans, long, beautiful hair cut straight across the forehead. The rocker getup is both a beckoning and a keep-out sign: being understood is not his modus, but Haino has achieved a reputation as a kind of unearthly visionary for giving his audience what it wants.

A birdlike Japanese man in his mid ’40s, Haino has learned to make his every step seem important. One of his American friends claims never to have seen him without sunglasses. Though able-bodied, he has recently affected the use of a cane, and I’m told that, despite his middle-class background, he speaks an antique and peculiar Japanese.

Of course, it all works: the high-wattage phraseology surrounding this wizard of multi-instrumental improvisation rarely falls below extremes. “As is

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