The mass production factory at Wall Noise Action keeps on a’rollin, and on New Year’s eve three conceptually linked albums by Bitum was released. It’s the Taisho Trilogy, folks, and it proves that it is in fact possible to work within the confines of Harsh Noise Wall/Ambient Noise Wall and come up with something that doesn’t sound quite like the rest. Each of the three albums has two songs of exactly 30 minutes each, making the complete trilogy precisely three hours long. You might not pull this one off in one sitting, but you sure as hell can try. We’ll address each album, one at a time.
Taisho Trilogy Part 1 – Tsigoineruwaizen
The first track, “Tsigoineruwaizen 1”, kicks off the journey. A deep bass murmur, with radio crackle on top. Evokes the feeling of something being dragged across snow or an old floor. Using radio as a sound source adds a surprising layer of diversity to the largely homogeneous, 30 minute noise wall track. Natural variations in the radio waves, and perhaps a little nob manipulation, alleviates that creeping suspicion that it’s all just computer generated static, and the track is further improved upon by the clear sense of layering the bass track creates.
The second track, “Tsigoineruwaizen 2”, gets rid of some of the bass, and goes for an almost organic, physical type of limited, wooden crackling. It snaps and twitches and at times you get a brief image of a carriage being drawn by demented horses over an infinity of wooden floorboards. While the layering is less obvious here, the radio source still does its thing: while very monotonous and solid, this feels created in a very nice way.
Taisho Trilogy Part 2 – Kagero-za
The second album opens with “Kagero-za 1” – another layered and well constructed noise wall. The bass is pretty much conventional wall noise, but it is interfered with by sharp crackles and some slight fuzz of another type. This makes for a very dynamic experience, in so far as such a thing is possible in HNW/ANW. There could perhaps have been a bit more mastering, because there are some annoying, if hard to define, qualities in the sound which should really have been cut out in mastering. This problem occurs now and then during these recordings, but if you’ve got a decent EQ on your sound system, I’m sure you can work it out yourself.
While the trilogy so far has been very subdued for a noise wall project, “Kagero-za 2” takes the cake. Very choked back snaps and crackles, sounding a bit like a sampled fireplace and a grandfather’s clock out of sync. There are some lower quality digital popping noises that take a bit away from the overall impression, but it’s still a novel and interesting take on the whole noise wall thing. This is shaping up nicely.
Taisho Trilogy Part 3 – Yumeji
The third album picks up right were the second one left off, but raises the temperature a bit by bringing a rumbling bass into the mix with the track “Yumeji 1”. There radio is still there, to provide treble and fuzz. Evokes images of subway trains briefly emerging from their tunnels in the night, in a world where electricity exists mainly as a means to afflict your senses.
The last track of Yumeji, and hence of the whole trilogy, is a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Ebony and Ivory” (just kidding, it’s called “Yumeji 2”). We get another choked, subdued, radio based crepitationfest of the same type as the second wall on Kagero-za, though a bit different. Like much of the Taisho Trilogy, it sounds somewhat like a less varied version of recent The Rita stuff. Once again, there are some digital disturbances that do not feel like they belong in the wall, but whether that bothers you at all is of course up to your esteemed self.
With The Taisho Trilogy Bitum does some interesting things with Harsh Noise Wall, and this release shouldn’t be missed by the fifty or sixty people who actually bother about this kind of stuff. A download can be bought for next to nothing on the following links,and if you’re too cheap even for that, the label provides links on each page for a free download on Archive.org.