Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reviews 23/9/07

Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things

Fujiya & Miyagi are difficult to describe. No, they aren't Japanese. They aren't even a two piece. And although they could be (and often are) lumped into the indie-electronica pseudo-genre (which, as far as I can gather, is basically just what happens when nerds make electronic music instead of drug addicts), I wouldn't at all call them an electronic act. So let's set things straight. They are three men from Brighton, England. There's Fujiya (Steve, synth), Miyagi (David, guitar & vocals)... and um... Ampersand (Matt, bass). And they play bass-groove infused dancey indie-pop, delivered with smooth vocals and peppered with synth. I'll admit, even I think that sounds entirely pretentious. Thankfully, in reality it is unassuming and utterly original.

The first thing you'll notice is the bass. Indeed, it's the central instrument. The guitar and synth are the supporting acts, building upon the groove set by the bass and programmed beats. Thankfully, we're talking real bass guitar here. Holding the sort of tone that no amount of electronics can replicate, and this is why my brain refuses to register any of this as electronic music. It's pop and it's funk. The second thing you'll notice is the vocals. Almost delivered in a loud whisper, and with lyrics possessing such a wry sense of humour. At first, they are just incredibly laid back and intuitively catchy, while further listens uncover an array of strangely original lyrics that somehow manage to be poetic in their blandness. From the very forthright "and we will just pretend to be Japanese, yeah" of Photocopier to "got to get a new pair of shoes, to kick it with her, not kick it with you" of Collarbone (which somehow leads into a "the kneebone's connected to the.. thighbone!" type segment, while losing none of the funk). Indeed, the moment you realise you've been jiving along to "cyclists should ride in designated bicycle zones and not on the pavement" all this time, you can't help but feel a little confused and giggly. Thankfully, it never feels gimmicky.

I'm not even sure how I came across this record. Yet it's become such a regular on my iPod that I struggle to think how I did without. I intentionally draw no artist comparisons, because they would act only to hinder your expectations and discovery of this lovable lost friend. It can turn any bus ride or walk into an enjoyable experience, and at nine tracks and thirty-six minutes long it never outstays its welcome and always leaves you looking forward to your next listen.


Steve B

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