Fujiya & Miyagi

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Ahhh, spring. ‘Tis the season of foreign band names…

…the latest being the electro-Kraut sensations best known as Fujiya & Miyagi. The Brighton-based trio played a show at Spaceland earlier this month to only Silverlake brethren, but to what seemed like a Eurotrash L.A. invasion, propagating a buzz only ousted by an announcement that they’d be opening for Peter Bjorn and John in their international spring tour.

While they dress like they’d be better suited in a Puma or Ben Sherman ad spread than a stage, Fujiya & Miyagi made the crowd realize how far funk can go when it’s the heartbeat pulsating through minimalist synthy buildups and seemingly meaningless lyrics. The words were made no more intelligible live, but the crowd perhaps better understood why the band prefers Reeboks to any other sneaks. They’re old skool, and they’re FUNK.

The set-list drew mostly from Transparent Things, their most recent release, which just reached the U.S. this year. F&M started the set with “Ankle Injuries,” the self-reflexive album opener which seems to modulate with each repetition of “Fujiya” and “Miyagi” as sung by Steve Best, heralding their arrival before they would almost disappear behind the music for the rest of the night.

Best (vocals/guitar/Korg) told Ground Control in an interview last year that these multi-instrumentalists all help generate the content. For the most part, however, each band member claimed their own duties onstage. The set was all about momentum, like so many of the more muted, unanticipated breakdowns on Transparent Things, the tiny Spaceland stage looking almost empty with a drum machine, synth boards, and only a few actual instruments. But Fujiya & Miyagi didn’t quite have the need to fill the stage with presence. Not wasting a single minute after the opener, they set to the groove of “Sucker Punch.” Bass line was kickin’ live, pumping a sense of reality into otherwise mechanically predetermined synth progressions. The band breezed through more conceptual arty-Kraut tracks like “Reeboks in Heaven,” “Cassette Single” and “Photocopier.” The eager-to-please “Collar Bone” even induced some sing-a-long mumbling from typically tame L.A. concert goers.

Fujiya & Miyagi have their live sets queued to their album like a heart monitor. It’s obvious they pay as much attention to detail live as they do constructing their material. If listening to Transparent Things is like being caught in the eye of an ever-looping mobius strip, seeing them live was like being bound to an intergalactic conveyor belt.

So basically, we see that old skool Kraut + new skool U.K. flava = unstoppable Reeboks dance invasion. Translations are no guarantee, but it hasn’t stopped them yet.

Transparent things is out now

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