Hijokaidan x Jun Togawa — Togawa Kaidan
(Reveil TECH-26464, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-06-08
I’m probably not alone in regarding the prospect of a Hijokaidan album with some trepidation. As one of the longest running producers of avant-noise rock, they have an extensive catalog of very loud, very distorted, very chaotic recordings. This band is all about transgression, be it extremes of feedback or onstage antics. But when I saw that they were collaborating with Jun Togawa, my interest was piqued — what would one of Japan’s most interesting and unpredictable singers bring to the mix, and how much of Jojo Hiroshige and company’s normal wall of noise be the rule? The album consists of five collaborative tunes between Togawa and the band, individual live tracks from three of the band’s members (guitarist Hiroshige, electronic manipulator Toshiji Mikawa, and vocalist Junko), two live Hijokaidan tracks without Togawa, and one duet with Hiroshige and Mikawa. The first track is a fairly typical slab of Hijokaidan consisting of wailing, heavily distorted guitar, chaotic electronic noises, and Junko’s incoherent screaming, with real drums courtesy of Acid Mothers Temple veteran Okano Futoshi. Pretty harsh stuff. Togawa joins on track 2, a “New Mix” of her 1985 avant-techno song “Suki Suki Daisuki” with her singing backed by a drum machine, noisy electronics, and guitar feedback, while parts of the original track (I think) play. Very strange. The other Togawa tunes are all new, noisy takes on tracks from Yapoos, her twisted synth-pop band of the late 80s to early 90s, sometimes sounding like old Yapoos demo versions supplemented by squalling feedback. For the solo tracks, all are formless blasts of noise (or in Junko’s case, screeching nonsense syllables). The Togawa tunes are somewhat reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux or Nina Hagen grafted onto random noise, the others are more or less random noise without the interest of vocal melodies, and will appeal to only a very select audience and probably alienate Jun Togawa fans looking for their quirky diva to shine.
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