Hijokaidan: Polar Nights Live

Pica005. CD. Released winter 2008. Audio sample

Hijokaidan has since 1979 been one of the leading voices in Japanese noise music. Starting out with a broad line-up of performers, eventually in the course of the 80-ies the Hijokaidan sound became easily identifiable with the shredding guitar-sound of band-leader Jojo Hiroshige and the high-pitched piercing voice of Junko. Few noise acts have such an instantly recognizable (and intense) sound.

Although Hijokaidan's status as noise superstars they rarely perform outside Japan. The pleasure was then ever greater for the All Ears festival in Oslo Norway to present Hijokaidan at their festival in january 2006. Polar Nights Live documents these historical and astonishing performances.

Jojo and Junko performed as a Hijokaidan two-piece on the opening night of the festival, a rarely heard line-up. Their performance got such a tremendous response that they came back for an encore (Otomo Yoshihide, longtime Hijokaidan fan who also performed at the festival, proclaimed "Incredible! Hijokaidan never does encores!"). The second night Jojo collaborated with guitarist Per Gisle Galåen (DEL, The Birds), unleashing thick layers of psychedelic and distorted guitar fog, which fans of  of Fushitsusha, Les Rallizes Denudes and Jojo's non-Hijokaidan work will appreciate. The final night saw Junko hooking up with noise-nik Sten Ove Toft (Ryfylke) for a hellish meltdown of twisted electronics and the most intense voice in music.

Unlike most other noise acts Hijokaidan has not spoiled their fans with a huge number of releases, which makes Polar Nights Live an even more unique statement of  pure noise sound.


Flat-out unbelievable new Hijokaidan album on Lasse Marhaug’s new Pica Disk imprint. One of the most confounding, mind-altering releases in their precociously heavy back catalogue, Polar Nights Live presents three different Hijokaidan line-ups, all of which operate at some kind of psychedelic/noise apex. Recorded live at the All Ears festival in Norway in 2006, the first track is the duo of Jojo Hiroshige on electric guitar and Junko on vocals and it’s one of the greatest Jojo performances of his career; the guitar sounds like it’s simply channelling bolts of pure electricity, with Jojo as the endlessly shocked conduit, with the strings warping under a hailstorm of feedback, protesting harmonics and pure squeal while Junko threads the chaos with exactingly articulated epiglottal ecstasies. Unbelievable. Second track is a twin guitar face-off between Jojo and Per Gisle Galaen of Del/Birds et al. This is much closer to the monolithic psychedelic rock of Fushitsusha than the contemporary Hijokaidan wind-tunnel feel and the sound of fully exploded phantom melodies is extremely beautiful. The final tracks features a single collapsing galaxy populated by Junko on vocals and Norwegian noise artists Sten Ove Toft on electronics. An amazing set, highly recommended. (Volcanic Tounge)

Polar Nights Live
Pica Disk Pica005

Legendariska ljudterroristerna Hijokaidan har alltid gjort vad de kan för att förstärka bilden av den japanska extremmusiken som överlägsen andras försök att på samma tumultartade sätt kombinera söndermanglad psykedelia och noise. Inledningen av den här skivan, som spelades in live i Oslo under 2006, lever sannerligen upp till historien med en våldsam gitarrattack som får högtalarna att skaka av den brutala ljudnivån. Jojo Hiroshige får på något egendomligt vis en gitarr att låta som en fräsande, enträgen elektrisk kraft som slungas in i ett bergrum redan till brädden fyllt med distorsion. Resultatet är så elektriskt att man börjar undra hur det överhuvudtaget är fysiskt möjligt att prestera något liknande. Hiroshige ackompanjeras i denna hagelstorm av oljud av Junko som bidrar med sin sedvanligt genomskärande röstinsats. Denna originalsättning av bandet levererar verkligen allt och lite till och till skillnad mot mycket annan noisemusik finns det en dynamik och ett överraskningsmoment i det de gör som verkligen tilltalar.

De två övriga spåren har andra sättningar med Per Gisle Galåen som ytterligare gitarrist (som att det behövdes mer gitarr!) på det ena och Sten Ove Tofts fräsande elektronik på det andra. Den förstnämnda är i jämförelse med inledningen en stillsam anrättning som för tankarna till Fushitsusha medan avslutande ”Le Rayon Verte” åter för oss in i den täta noisedimma bandet oregelbundet pumpat ut sedan starten 1979. Korta avbrott för fullständig tystnad ersätts av ljudmässiga godståg som gång på gång frontalkrockar i full karriär.

”Polar Nights Live” är en synnerligen påfrestande skiva som med hull och hår levererar precis allt vad den japanska noisescenen står för och jag är lycklig att ha fått en liten glimt av hur det måste ha varit att ha bevittnat dessa tre omtumlande konserter på finfina Blå i Oslo.



(Lasse Marhaug's new label released the above recorded live at All Ears festival in Oslo - both have a mixed line ups - Jojo and Junko performed as a Hijokaidan for track one (No Oslo No Harm ) of their disk - the subsequent two being Jojo with guitarist Per Gisle Galåen (Book Of Changes) and Junko with Sten Ove Toft (Le Rayon Verte), whereas the other disk has Incapacitants - Fumio Kosakai and T.Mikawa on track one (Orange Smoke), followed by (Out Of Schnaps ) by "Fumio Tommiakawa" who are- Kosakai and T.Mikawa with Tommi Keränen.) Coherance (what I mean here is all at onceness) cannot communicate, only difference can, whatever communication is, if it exists at all - noise does not communicate - it is the problematics of any communication system (Nyquist-Shannon law), it is immanent - not delayed - not teleological, neither signifier or signified ergo common to both these disks is a remarkable demonstration, both opening tracks of Hijokaidan and Incapacitants are noise, and the
others in their interplay *are not* - do communicate, they are the arch human tendency to represent (by interplay, recognition, pulse, improvisation, desire, becoming, binaryism ∑) and so differentiate from the "throwness" (a bad word) of noise. Remarkably both CDs demonstrate this gulf and they are worth listening to for this apart from the excellence of the performances - though excellence is of course a singling out -we can predicate the non-noise works - even anticipate- as an audience member obviously does! on Le Rayon Verte (almost classically silly!) - and can not of course hope to represent the - un-representational of the totalising presence of the noise works of Hijokaidan and Incapacitants - again - ambiplasma - organs without bodies the Meer der Brustwarzen of the Ephesian Artemis. (jliat, Vital Weekly)

Lasse Marhaug’s Pica Disk label continues to nail its noise-loving colours to the mast and has spewed out two tasty releases of unlistenable Japanese noise in very attractive little wallet packages. Polar Nights Live comes to us from the inimitable veterans Hijokaidan, and assaults you with three lengthy excerpts from 2006 concerts recorded in Oslo by John Hegre. Actually Hijokaidan proper only appear on the first track, remainder of disc being intriguing team-ups between the guitarist (Jojo Hiroshige) or the vocalist (Junko) with Nordic musicians. Junko’s shrill vocal blasting is kinda hard to sit through, but this release looks like an essential scorcher of anti-social dimensions! Unlike Hijokaidan who almost resemble a band of sorts, Incapacitants are pretty much pure table-noise as evidenced on Burning Orange, a record of live recordings from a 2007 Oslo Festival. You get 28 minutes of the Japanese duo working their knobs like dosed-up monkeys, then a further serving of same supplemented by guest Norwegian Tommi Keränen. An airless bubbling delight of vicious electronics. (Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector blog)

HIJOKAIDAN – polar nights live (CD, Picca)

Hijokaidan are the best hidden secret legends of Japan noise and it is completely thanks to Lasse Marhaug’s efforts that they have left Japan to play a show at the All Ears Festival 2006 in Oslo, Norway, which Mister Marhaug recorded and now releases on his very own Piccadisk label. Hijokaidan are so withdrawn from the public sphere that even amongst the ever-searching noise addict scene they are hard to come by. This status is also enforced by the fact that they hardly ever play live, especially not outside the Japan isle, and that they record even less. I only ever came across one release – a white ten inch – about fifteen years back and then I didn’t buy it, because it was too obscure for me. (Can you imagine that!) Compare that kind of productivity to Merzbow and you see what I mean, though Hijokaidan have been around since 1979 so they actually stand right there next to Kazayuki K. Null or Keiji Haino in longevity. The more thanks to Sir Lasse Marhaug for making this unknown giants better known to a broader audience (at least I hope it works.)

The core of Hijokaidan are Jojo Hiroshige, who abuses a guitar like not a lot people are able to, and Junko, who does the same to vocal chords. Recovering from a severe inflammation of the throat and larynx momentarily I wonder how a human being is able to do that. To describe them as a mixture of Masonna and Keiji Haino, though probably good for business on the one hand, is completely out of course on the other one. Not only because they usually mix up with a bunch of other, differing people in shows, but because it does not do justice to the power of what can be heard on this CD.

“Polar Nights” is structured according to the appearance of Hiroshige and Junko during the three day All Ears festival, which had the two-people basic line up of Hijokaidan on the first night and then Hiroshige performing with Per Gisle Galaen (known probably from DEL, the most underrated psychedelic band from Scandinavia – because whatever you say about them is an understatement of some sorts) and Junko doing a separate set with Sten Ove Toft (from Ryfylke, which draw a blank on my map, which I intend to change as soon as possible).

So the first track is a long ride through incredible distortion and chaotic noise consisting basically of a guitar and voice. Which in itself is incredible, because most of the time it sounds as if you are stuck in a giant building that is collapsing because Godzilla is stomping around on it – yeah like that but a hundred times more extreme. The track is called “No Oslo No Harm” for a reason, you know. Hiroshige leaves out no trick on his six sides, giving them the full force destruction as well burning core shredding and high level feedbacks while my throat goes back to hurting like hell only listening to what Junko is doing. Message? Political inclination? I don’t think so, apart from the cathartic cleansing that experiencing such an event live must have on any kind of person, cleaning him or her from all the bullshit and pretensions and arrogance that gets so big in everybody these days. You know, there is a reason that noise musicians always seem to be the most gentle people you could possibly know when meeting them somewhere. Hijokaidan even do a encore on this track, which in itself is another unbelievable act.

This set takes up about half an hour of the CD and while other labels would have sufficed with that, counting in the legend status of Hijokaidan, on this release you will find some more. Galaen and Hiroshige start off their collaboration in a more “gentle” manner, layering their guitars over one another with the droning massiveness of Leviathan swimming by. Suddenly all those records by Fear Falls Burning start to taste a little stale, judging against the overwhelming depths and multitude of these sounds. Maybe Dirk Serries is just releasing too much, drawing out a single idea over to long a period? Maybe it means that getting back to the roots of something is always more satisfying an experience than ingesting the generic product? Anyway, this track is less chaotic, less substantially self-destructing, but still intense and dense. Most of the time you could easily guess that it is guitars, by the way. The other collaboration of that night is Junko with electronic experimentalist Sten Ove Toft and it is also a treat. Actually, it is a scream. Do you remember those voices off-Hollywood producers like to use on Horror-movies to portray the sounds that lost souls or a mass of evil ghosts make? You get this here manifold a hundred times. Yes, definitely intriguingly cool and devastating, the way it should be. Junko’s voice is as destructive as a neutron bomb or any other distasteful and politically non-correct comparison, and Toft’s electronic noise is like a single-layer Masami Akita, which together makes for a unique experience. But since this is turning out the longest review I ever wrote, and there are still some little things to say, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination (as if you would ever be able to…)

We also have to applaud again the incredible Lasse Marhaug for the genius business plan of getting great noise musicians to play live shows and then filling releases with the recordings of these shows. There is nothing better than taking full advantage of possibilites, and as long as the effects are as great as this, there is no way we are gonna complain in any way. Amidst all the junk it is releases like this that seem to make all the hassle worthwhile. Therefore I am gonna add here that there is another great release on Piccadisk, which is an album by – gasp – the Incapacitants, another Japan Noise legend, as well as a great album by Lasse Marhaug on Quasi-Pop, which is a new collaboration with Anla Courtis. Both of which will find praising reviews in these pages in the next weeks. (http://www.monochrom.at)

Polar Nights Live
CD (2008)
Pica Disk

Til ørene detter av
Møte mellom unik japansk støyduo og norske bråkmakere.

Da Hijokaidan ble dannet var Oddvar Nordli statsminister i Norge, Jimmy Carter spiste nøtter i Det hvite hus og Argentina var nettopp blitt verdensmestere i fotball for første gang. Det er altså en stund siden ekteparet med de klingende navnene Jojo og Junko startet sin ferd ned støygata i Osaka. De har aldri sett seg tilbake.

Hijokaidans musikalske rammeverk og historiske linjer bør rulles opp av kjennere med større tilknytning til bandet enn undertegnede skal skryte på seg. For de uinnvidde er det greit å fastslå med en gang at Hijokaidan bedriver støy av den intense, smertefulle og eh, bråkete typen.

Hijokaidan regnes som legender innen sitt felt. Det skyldes nok både deres ekstreme vesen, lange karrière, det faktum at de sjelden spiller utenfor hjemlandet og ikke minst at de i motsetning til mange andre i genren ikke pøser ut en ny plate hver tredje uke. En ny utgivelse regnes dermed som en aldri så liten begivenhet.

I 2006 var vi så heldige å ha besøk av Hijokaidan i Oslo, i forbindelse med allEars-festivalen. Alle de tre kveldene med bandet ble fanget opp på DAT av Radio Nova, og leveres nå i plateform av Pica Disk. De tre kuttene, hver på cirka en halvtime i lengde, fremføres av Jojo og Junko som duo (hhv. gitar og vokal), Jojo og Per Gisle Galåen (begge gitar) og til slutt Junko og Sten Ove Toft (hhv. vokal og elektronikk).

No Oslo No Harm er Hijokaidan i duoformat, og det er en ganske ekstrem opplevelse. Her er ingen rom å gjemme seg, ingen skott å trekke pusten bak. Et hvitt teppe legges umiddelbart rundt ørene i det Jojo destruerer gitaren og Junkos frenetiske, skingrende smertehyl smelter sammen. Med unntak av øyeblikk med hylende feedback finnes det lite kos her. Har du lyst til å titte inn i helvete? Vel, her sparkes døren åpen med et brak og du dras inn i flammehavet enten du vil eller ei. Noe upraktisk å høre på for oss med gryende øresus!

Jeg foretrekker nok heller Book of Changes til kveldskosen. Dette er en gitarveksling mellom Jojo Hiroshige og Per Gisle Galåen (DEL, Birds) av mer dvelende psykdelisk art som gradvis øker i intensitet og de to danner et sammenfallende totalitært regime av gitarterror.

Den siste kvelden med Hijokaidan i Oslo var en konstellasjon bestående av Junko og Sten Ove Toft. Le Rayon Verte heter stykket, som er et besnærende møte mellom kvinnelige hyl og elektronisk tortur. Igjen, krevende, desperat og ytterst intenst, men på en merkverdig måte også ganske befriende. Det er som om alle gitte konvensjoner opphører til fordel for et anarkistisk kaos; etter atomreaktorens nedsmelting er det ikke en gang spor etter aske når det endelig blir stille. Junkos hyl er i dessuten noe av det mest skremmende du får høre på plate i år.

Polar Nights Live er kanskje ikke beregnet for hvermannsen, men som dokument over et ustoppelig, innflytelsesrikt og unikt band er dette en plate som brennmerker seg inn i samlingen. (Bjørn Hammershaug, Groove.no, http://www.groove.no/html/review/45212379.html)

Polar nights live
(Pica Disk)

NoiseDe japanska noiseveteranerna Hijokaidan är mest kända för att de brukade urinera på scen och kasta rutten fisk och annat omkring sig. Äcklig performancekonst kan man tycka, men musikaliskt är kärnduon Jojo Hiroshige (gitarr) och Junko (sång) extremt explosiva, vilket den här omtumlande liveskivan (inspelad på Blå i Oslo under en festival 2006) bevisar. Med två norska musiker som gäster skapar Jojo och Junko ljuvliga ljud som skär igenom märg och ben. Hisnande sång och gitarrspelet är obeskrivligt hårt. (Göteborg Posten)

Hijokaidan - Polar Nights Live [Picadisk - 2008]

Polar Nights live brings together near on 70 minutes of noise, chaos,and surprisingly cinematic in places sound attacks. Recorded over two nights at last years All Ears Festival in Oslo.
No Harm No Oslo opens the album up throwing you straight into the deep of chaos and sound mayhem. With Jojo Hiroshige jabbering, juddering and ripping guitar attack-sounding like he's literary beating and rapping his guitar. And Junko’s manic high pitched vocal yammering, speed chatring. At times whining and squealing like a trapped dog on an electrocuted floor. The track lasts just over 25 minutes & hardly lets you up for air, it just attacks you again and again like a madman on speed.

Next up we have Book of Changers which sees Jojo Hiroshige been joined on guitar by Norwegian muilt- instrumentalist Per Gisle Galåen, with Junko stepping back. This track is far calmer,atmospheric and to begin with harmonic, built around edgy and cold guitar patterns with growing walls of feedback become more and more volatile as the track progresses. At about the seven mark the harmonic/cold guitar patterns get all but swallowed up by bellowing clouds of guitar feedback and noise with the pair really pumping out dense shifting smog of sound. It slips back briefly at its end to the striped down guitar refrain once more.

Lastly we have Le Royon Verte which brings back Junko this time joined by Norwegian noise maker Sten Ove Toft on electronics. Sadly this is the least exciting and stimulating track here. It just seems the pair are going through the monitions, just kick up and rather dull noise and vocal overload. There are some more droning textures here and there that show some slight reward but on the whole it did little for me.

Another perfectly recorded and mostly rewarding slab of Japanese noise on the Pica disk label, with only the last track really letting the side down. (www.musiquemachine.com)

Hijokaidan: Polar Nights Live (CD, Pica Disk)
Three long tracks recorded live at All Ears Festival in Oslo, Norway in January 2008. Actually only the first one of the is Hijokaidan. The second one is Jojo collaborating with Per Gisle Galåen and the last one Junko with Sten Ove Toft. Hijokaidan are of course pure mayhem. Insane and FUCKING LOUD. Trebly and painful. Violent guitar abuse and screeching demented vocals. Noise doesn't get wilder or more energetic than this. Jojo / Galåen collaboration is a guitar duet that starts in rather droning mood with slow guitar chords and tones and feedback. Sound has more mid/low end than the previous track and live recording gives it nice warm and dirty quality. The track grows nicely and gets noisier here and more atmospheric there. Excellent psychedelic guitar noise. The last track features Junko on vocals and Toft on electronics. We get more of insane screaming and demented yelping backed with rather good noisy electronics. To me this is easily the weakest link here but still well worth documenting on CD. Stylish cardboard cover. An extreme and uncompromising recording very much recommended to anyone into real noise. (online review)




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