Nazoranai / Jer Reid & Friends @ Stereo, 10 July

Live Review by Sam Wiseman | 16 Jul 2013

Following Keiji Haino’s rapturously-received solo performance at Tramway last year, his return to Glasgow as one-third of Nazoranai feels like a significant event; and that’s before the other band members – Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley on bass, and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi on drums – are factored in. Nazoranai are effectively a noise supergroup, and it’s therefore fitting that tonight’s support is a collaboration between four figures who’ve all played a significant role in Glasgow’s underground arts scene in recent years.

Jer Reid and Joseph Quimby create a backdrop of twisted guitar stabs and drones, embellished by Lucy Duncombe with wailing vocals and rhythmic manipulation of objects including a plastic bottle and parcel tape; this is interspersed with periods of tense quietude, while Paul Henry operates as a near-silent central figure, wearing a white dress and shifting his body in agitated accompaniment.

The group’s measured fluctuations between tentative, spacious improv and grinding power chords demonstrate the welcome unpredictability that such collaborations can generate. In that respect, Nazoranai’s attempts to forge a new sound from the combination of Ambarchi, O’Malley and Haino is not always effective: the sheer force of Haino’s blistering guitar tends to dominate proceedings, and for all of their talent, the rhythm section can feel constrained and predictable.

However, in terms of sonic texture, O’Malley’s unmistakably heavy, droning bass provides a brutally effective counterweight to Haino’s frazzled, hallucinatory fretwork and yelping vocals; and when Ambarchi does launch into more freeform rhythms, the trio reach the kind of transcendental heights that their combined talents promise. At other points, the collaborative energy which underpins tonight’s support act can feel oddly absent.