Hijokaidan’s Strangest Record in 40 Years of Noise

This post originally was intended to take a look at pioneering Japanese noise act Hijokaidan’s new record, “Keniten (乾為天)”. Released via label Reveal, the studio recording album serves to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band. It’s a great new record, so I’ll speak on it a little, but I stumbled on something even better while researching about the release.

Hijokaidan – “Keinten”
(via Reveal)

“Keinten” is a pretty unique record. The opener and closer are well executed noise tracks, if not a little standard for Hijokaidan. What’s in-between is what makes the record special.

It’s essentially harsh noise, deconstructed. Each member of the band contributes one solo track, resulting in a virtuosic 6-minute drum solo from Futoshi Okano, an unsettling lesson in unclean vocal extremity from vocalist Junko Hiroshige, a doomy guitar drone from Jojo Hiroshige, and a harsh noise freak-out from Toshiji Mikawa.

When all of these individual sounds reunite on the final song, “歌舞音曲”, the true artistry of what it takes to make truly artistic noise is revealed in an extremely satisfying way.

“Keinten” is an excellent celebration of all of the work Hijokaidan has done since 1979.

40 years is more than double my age, so I think’s alright for me to have missed out on some of that work. While looking to find out more about “Keinten”, I found one release I wish I would’ve known about earlier.

BiS Kaidan is the head-scratch-inducing collaboration between Hijokaidan and now defunct idol J-pop group Brand-new Idol Society, commonly referred to as BiS.

BiS Kaidan
(via Specific Recordings)

The seasoned noise artists have been making bewildering crossovers with pop music for decades, and BiS are pretty edgy, as far as J-pop goes. They’ve frequently made use of metal instrumentation and have produced some pretty iconoclastic music videos.

Even though it makes a little sense given the heavy sensibilities of both groups, I don’t think anybody saw this cacophonous joint effort coming.

“BiSKaidan” was released in 2013 through Avex Trax, and it’s as perplexing as it is fun to listen to. Even if not all of the tracks were original for the compositions, it feels like both groups of artists brought their A game to the effort.

BiS Kaidan – “BiSKaidan”
(via Specific Recordings)

BiS were already serving up some pretty high energy music before “BiSKaidan”, but this record takes it to dizzying heights. The BiS portion of the tracks generally feels like they’re the foundation of the songs, with frenetic noise, deafening feedback and high-pitched, manic shrieking from Hijokaidan adding an entirely new layer.

Oddly enough, when I don’t listen too hard, it doesn’t sound out of place. This isn’t done in a tacky, attention seeking way. The noise elements never stick out

The exception to the rule here is the closing track, “BiS_Kaidan”, where the song sounds like a BiS track being subjected to some seriously warped manipulation from the noise veterans.

I think one of my newfound biggest regrets in life was that I was born to0 late to have witnessed a live performance from this collaboration. Just watch at this.

The showmanship, the musicianship, and the pure symbiotic energy of the crowd and performers is something to behold, and something that won’t be seen again anytime soon.

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