Album Review: Fujiya & Miyagi – Transparent Things

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Fujiya & Miyagi – Transparent Things (Electronica, Funk, Krautrock) [2006]


The deceptively named British indie-electronica group Fujiya & Miyagi are a bit of a musical curiosity. At first listen the music of this group might sound pretty run-of-the-mill; there were plenty of bands doing similar things in the mid 2000’s. But if you lend a more careful ear, you can begin to hear and identify the multitude of opposing musical styles that Fujiya & Miyagi blend seamlessly together. Genres that are often not associated with one another all manage to squeeze their way into this album without detracting from the relaxed electronic vibes.

The true beauty of Transparent things is in its subtlety. Like I mentioned before, at first listen it might not sound like anything too special. But in fact there are many layers of nuanced influences hidden in the depths of each track. The most evident example is the bands obvious appreciation for Krautrock. Almost every song contains some element of the groovy, trance-inducing music that is Krautrock. From the simple,repetitive, hypnotizing guitar and bass lines to the droning synth accompaniment. As well as a focus on rhythm and meter instead of any kind of melody. Even the whispery vocals seem to be a tip of the hat to the vocal stylings of Damo Suzuki of the famous Krautrock band Can.

Funk plays a major role in Transparent things also. In order to give their modern Krautrock sound a much needed edge, Fujiya & Miyagi  incorporate some snappy drumming and funky bass lines to form a nice, dance-able beat. They tone it down a bit of course, to fit in with the chill tone they have set for themselves. You wouldn’t normally think that Funk would work well in the world of indietronica, but interestingly enough, this usually sharp and spirited form of music actually mixes well with the low-key electronic grooves they create. The synthesis of these musical styles helps the band achieve quite a unique sound that is still very accessible to the common listener.

As impressive as all this genre blending and musical mixology is, Transparent Things is not without its flaws. The reliance on repetition and rhythm over chorus and melody is both a blessing and a detriment. When the songwriting is solid, you get delightful tunes like “Collarbone” and “Suckerpunch” that just implant their hooks right into your brain and stay their. But on the weaker tracks, namely “Transparent Things”, you are forced to listen to the same bland riff repeated ad nauseam, making the tracks feel twice their length. Fortunately the album is paced well with instrumentals breaking up the more personified and lively tracks. I found myself enjoying Transparent Things quite a bit, but the formula does wear a little thin by the end and I’m not really sure if another full album of material like this would impress me as much. That being said, I strongly recommend Transparent Things.

Favorite Track: Collarbone

Rating: ** (great)