Imagine that Fujiya & Miyagi are mask-wearing technicians dissecting music, keen to magnify particles of sound to create a pulsing antidote to the ordinary. They speak in tongues, using language as a rhythm, picking words that sound good, rhyming ‘jigsaws’ with ‘carnivores’. Their songs are incisive snapshots of real lives that make household appliances sound threatening. They are steeped in vintage music from evocative krautrock to deep soul, with wafts of early Human League synth, Floydian Englishness and the throbbing groove of Tom Tom Club, all filtered for modern times.
In total, Fujiya & Miyagi don’t really sound like anything. Instead, they sound like everything condensed into perfectly arranged three minute chunks of infectious pop music, a strange hybrid of James Brown on Valium and Wire gone pop. Or maybe Serge Gainsbourg with a PhD in electronics backed by David Byrne’s Eno-produced scratchy guitar mixed by MF Doom. It’s Darwinism gone mad.
Formed in 2000 as an electronic duo of David Best (guitars and vocals) and Steve Lewis (synths, beats, programming), they released Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style two years later, a minimal electronic set it hangs eerily on Best’s distinctive whispered vocal. Adding bass player Matt Hainsby in 2004, they released a series of ten inch EPs that took them to the hearts of fanzineland. Gathered together these parables of personal injury, both physical and mental, made up three quarters of the well-received (Pitchfork, NME, MOJO, etc) album Transparent Things in 2006. Named after a Nabokov brain dump on the relationship between the past and the present. It sums them up.
A Regal seven-inch, “Uh”, further concentrated their sound. A set of vocal ticks, a funky bass and a storyline about a relationship as prickly as two porcupines, it made small talk sound sinister over an infectious groove. It was the perfect set up for their second US Album, Light Bulbs – imagine 11 classic ideas clicking on above your head, now with real drums in places, courtesy of Lee Adams, and the picture is complete.
Fujiya & Miyagi stay away from lyrical themes that have been done to death. Using old synths to punctuate their beautifully-observed anecdotes on romantic triumphs and disasters, heroes and villains and the world at large, their rhythms palpitate to produce modern symphonies like no-one else. Light Bulbs is a journey littered with fragmented images, anecdotes from the sublime to the ridiculous, blurry stories that you feel you shouldn’t have overheard. Each track an aural contamination set to itch your inner ear every waking moment.
US 2009 Winter Tour
2/11 - 7th Street Entry - Minneapolis MN
2/12 - Bottom Lounge - Chicago IL
2/13 - Magic Stick - Detroit MI
2/14 - Alfred University Knight Club - Alfred NY
2/15 - Paradise - Boston MA
2/17 - LPR - New York NY
2/18 - The Trocardero - Philadelphia PA
2/19 - 9:30 Club - Washington DC
2/20 - Cats Cradle - Carrboro NC
2/21 - 40 Watt Club - Athens GA
2/23 - Back Booth - Orlando FL
2/24 - Club Downunder - Tallahassee FL
2/25 - Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge LA
2/27 - Emos Alternative Lounge - Austin TX
2/28 - Palladum Loft - Dallas X
3/2 - Rhythm Room - Phoenix AZ
3/3 - Echoplex - Los Angeles CA
3/5 - The Independent - San Francisco CA
3/6 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland OR
3/7 - Neumos - Seattle WA