Jun TOGAWA is back! JUN TOGAWA IS BACK! JUN TOGAWA! JUN TOGAWA!
Ok. Now that’s out of my system. Yes. Japanese anti-idol, queen of the 80s and ultimately my favorite Japanese artist of all time has returned after too, TOO long. Sure she’s had stints and one off tracks here and there, but hasn’t featured on anything major since her series of albums in 2004. That’s 11 years without her adding her unique blend of spice to the industry. But lets not get sidetracked here- this is also a Hijokaidan album- and I’m sure many, many Hijokaidan fans are just as excited to hear it as a Hijokaidan album as I am looking at it as a Jun Togawa album.
So? How is it?
Well… lets cut to the chase. It’s more of a Hijokaidan release than a Togawa release. Togawa only appears on just five tracks of the album here- and while this was a bit underwhelming to discover at first- the tracks that she’s on are, well, absolutely breathtaking to this listener. Every one is a rendition of a Togawa classic- and every one is a sonic punch to the face and the heart– reminding us why Togawa is- and always will be– legendary. There is no denying how amazing these songs are. The new versions add a whole level of immensity and they come off anthemic. It’s hard not to shed a tear.
The rest of the tracks are Hijokaidan tracks- and are recordings from various live sets. They are pretty impressive listening for a noise fan- the production here is quite amazing. For people not into the noise scene- they may be a little off-putting and ‘huh?‘. But that’s ok. Noise is not a genre too many people are going to get along with. I found most of these tracks enjoyable sans one- the somewhat annoying “Junko to Junko” which I couldn’t help but skip about half way through. Those who listen to it will see why… The intro and outro tracks are pretty damn great.
The best way to approach this album is to find a time when you can play it LOUD- making sure you’ve got it blasting through decent equipment or headphones. There’s no way you’re gonna get the full effect listening to it at normal levels. It, by it’s very nature- is nuisance music (and I mean that in the best imaginable way). It’s gonna kick your ears in, you’re going to feel right down in your gut. Hijokaidan’s signature walls of brutal, harsh noise and screeches mixed with Togawa’s current, time and lifestyle abused vocal chords are a menacing mix to say the least.
Ultimately, as far as the Togawa featuring tracks go- they’re worth entry price alone. I would give them on their own a solid 9 out of 10. As for the album as a whole- well, it doesn’t quite fully work for me. The mix of live and studio is a little distracting and to be honest, the non-Togawa tracks to a Hijokaidan casual like myself felt more like interludes or heaven forbid, even filler. I’m not saying they’re bad by any means- and I’m sure the Hijokaidan fans will get some more worth out of them- but I honestly feel if they had just released this as an EP, it would have at the end of the day, packed the bigger punch.
That said… those TOGAWA TRACKS. OMG.
7.5/10 Brilliant re-imaginings of Togawa classics wrapped in some live Hijokaidan tracks. It’s not a perfect release, but it’s definitely worth picking up as a Togawa or Hijokaidan fan
And hell, SOME Togawa is better than no Togawa, right? RIGHT.