With an arcane name typical of Keiji Haino works, this collaboration involving Belgian improvisers Jozef Dumoulin (Fender Rhodes & electronics) and Teun Verbruggen (drums & electronics) draws together live and studio cuts that help create a sense of visceral, yet precise, development of sounds. Where Haino provides wilderness and theatricality of performance, Dumoulin seems much more restrained, in the sense in which restraint becomes similar to repression, in constant danger of explosion once the last drop spills the water in the glass. Verbruggen flows between relentlessness and a relaxed rhythmic approach, setting the other two musicians up for harmonic play that pierces the ear as often as it soothes it.
There is a sense of the poetic in every Haino performance, and this collaboration is no different, except the direction of every piece is much less ritualized than usual, with the result that their emotionality is made strong not through the ecstatic quality of noise but through the expanses of soundscape. It’s difficult to talk about meditation in free jazz and improv when it comes to the listener (you can always argue for active meditation for players), since meditation implies an abstracted sense of the here and now while those music forms demand a more bodily commitment to the present; The Miracles of Only One Thing embraces long duration by means of a relatively slow pace that allows the listener to move in and out of focus, with sounds allowed to wander back and forth. Instead of attending to the ritual and the poetic connection to something that could be called divine in the moment-to-moment intensity of performance, this album subsumes its bursts of emotion into an awareness of something that exceeds them. Like the blank spaces of the album cover, resembling classical Chinese landscape paintings, this music demands contemplation of what you assume is nothing, the ways in which noises blend into another form of silence.
The poetic in Miracles is not so much a function of a collective exercise of the very force of life as in many other free jazz and Haino performances, but a function of a retreat, an imaginative expression of that force as the life of the mind. Thus, when he bursts into screams and guitar blasts as Verbruggen kicks it up and Dumoulin blends all that energy together into feedback-like riffs, it is not the birds and the trees we are listening to (both in movement, both alive by virtue of their activity), it is what holds them both together (another version of life, an energy of containment). As the much more comparatively quiet last third of the album flows into place, all that intensity is pushed back into echoes and sudden remembrances – the climax is not the end-point, but the spaces filled by all those sounds across time. Like the best soundscapes, the album doesn’t really finish when the music stops: it bleeds into your perception, it presents you with a dream of reason. (David Murrieta)