Fujiya and Miyagi. Live at Islington Mill, Salford. 03/03/2011

Review by Emma Roy-Williams

Listening to ‘Transparent Things’ by Fujiya and Miyagi reminds me of a fabulously misguided time when I bought a one- way ticket to Barcelona, and having no firm plans once I got there it was the perfect soundtrack to an adventure I didn’t know how would end. However, because of my mission to ‘find myself’ I missed Fujiya and Miyagi’s first gig at Night and Day Café and was therefore grateful for their return to Manchester, or should I say Salford, tonight.

I was tipped off about Fujiya and Miyagi through the Piccadilly Records end of year review in 2007, who they said; they took their influences from Krautrock and Disco. Intrigued by such a combo I bought the album and four years on I can now say I am better educated in the ways of Can and Neu and what Krautrock encapsulates. It is an experimental and fun approach to music, the blueprint of which is still being replicated today and none more so than with tonight’s first support act Plank, who are, I’m pleased to say, from Withington.

At 8pm there is still no sign of Plank. The house lights are up, Fujiya and Miyagi are sat round having a chat and Mirrors are warming up. I would have thought things would be underway by now but this is the Mill and I have come to realise that they do things differently; it always has that after hours, DIY feel to it.

Eventually Plank kick off proceedings. They live up to their lo- fi name, show little of their faces, have their hoods up, and play in darkness with the only light coming from a film playing on screens behind them. They hold a lot of the Krautrock ethic: psychedelic guitar sounds and looped beats. With zero lyrics it could be described as good film music; creating an atmosphere, which fits with the flickering images in the background and provides more visceral entertainment than your standard rock outfit.

Not so for the next support act ‘Mirrors’, they ramp up the style stakes significantly; dressing entirely in black with thin black ties and signature severe ‘electro’ haircuts. They look like a Kraftwerk tribute band; crucially though, they don’t sound like a tribute band. They are like Kratwerk’s cheeky young nephews who’ve been taught how to play a synth by Uncle Fritz and are now making music to include later influences like Krautrock. The result is warmer electronic music that loses, none of its crispness. Lyrically as well they have more depth than most electronic bands being more comparable to a guitar band.

In fact, Mirrors are at times brilliant; and they are a great development in the electronic cannon Kraftwerk created. They are supporting Gary Numan in April and are definitely ones to watch.

Last but by no means least, Fujiya and Miyagi take to the stage. They play some key tunes from ‘Transparent Things’ such as ‘Collar Bone’ which lists all the joints from that familiar childhood refrain ‘Dry Bones’, as in; “Hip Bone connected to the leg bone, leg bone connected to the knee bone, knee bone connected to the shin bone, connected to the ankle bone…” it is delivered in a way kids memorised; slowly and methodically. But they are not child- like in their song construction, the sounds layer on top of each other, basslines bubble away and the synths build towards a euphoric whole.

One of their new songs, from album ‘Ventriloquizing’ sounds a lot like, Diana Ross’s Chain Reaction. Not my favourite Diana Ross song but this is the right song choice for them as it is similar to their own looped, relentless style. I am told she is an influence on them and this makes perfect sense for a band who; have disparate influences that when brought together make sense.  

With their return they have a task on their hands to maintain the standards they set themselves with ‘Transparent Things’. Bands usually have more to prove with the difficult ‘second album’ particularly so for a band like Fujiya and Miyagi who have a monotone quality, that while mesmerising, could lapse in to monotonous if steps aren’t made to push their sound in different ways. Their new songs sound a bit samey but overall, it is a night of spellbinding songs and a master class in making hypnotic music without going under.

3 responses

9 03 2011
Andy

Poor review, Ventriloquizzing is the bands 3rd album not their second. A quick search on the internet would have shown the reviewer this!

7 05 2011
emma

yeah i’d like to know as well! i am always up for a bit of constructive criticism…

10 03 2011
jon

Hey Andy, I’m afraid to say that you and the reviewer are both in the wrong. Ventriloquizzing is in fact the bands fourth album; a quick search on the internet would indeed have shown this!

Also you say “Poor review”, can you elaborate on this, as apart from the aforementioned error, I find this review to be perfectly fine?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: