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  Transparent Things  
  Fujiya + Miyagi  

Deaf Dumb & Blind

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It strikes me as interesting that bands, widely separate geographically, can come up with something very similar sounding at approximately the same time. Take Fujiya + Miyagi and The Selmanaires. One is British, the other Atlanta-based, yet both are doing dance rock with heavy rhythms and deep, monotonous bass grooves. Why do these synchronicities happen? Is it something to do with the cultural malaise affecting the English-speaking world right now? These are the things that keep me up at night...

Well, moving right along, Fujuiya + Miyagi are in fact English, and not Japanese as their name might imply. I think it has something to do with The Karate Kid, although that really isn't important. Nor is the music the band makes anything remotely like the sounds that come out of Japan. This is not cheesy electro synth pop, screaming noisy punk, bizarre girl band, or extremely psychedelic music (note for later rant: what the heck is wrong with Japanese music, anyway?). Instead, F+M take their cues from the other side of The Axis, and make music descended from the likes of early Kraftwerk, Neu!, Trio, and early Tangerine Dream. That's right baby -- this is Krautrock. Get out your black turtleneck and prepare to touch the monkey. But first, we dance!

And this is a helluva great record for dancing. Each songs slides into a deep groove pinned down tightly by strong bass rhythms. Seriously -- Matt Hainsby is one of the best out there these days. If you like to listen to some tunage with really driving bass beats, then this is your band.

Standout tracks include Collar Bone, wherein the vocalist chants muscle and bone connections over a groove that would even get Richard Nixon (America's least funky President) shaking it, and In One Ear and Out The Other, which does the whole thing all over again, despite old Tricky Dick's protestations of tiredness (and being dead, i suppose).

On the other end of the spectrum you have Reeboks in Heaven, which is almost a ballad for this band. It is a reflective song, not really a dance tune, but very well done.

The only problem with the record is that, aside from Reeboks in Heaven, all of the tunes are bass-driven dance pieces. There is a sort of commonness to the songs, and they tend to blur together slightly. Additionally, i know that this music doesn't appeal to many people, and that it ages poorly. Dance music is ephemeral -- catching the imagination for a brief while then fading away suddenly when fashions change.

Still, if you like these kinds of grooves, then this is an excellent record. They do a pretty narrowly defined style of music, but they do it very well. Still, i have to wonder what they will be doing in two years. This sort of sound could get old pretty quickly.

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