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Fujiya and Miyagi at the Echo on Sunday, March 20th, 2011

 There was an addictive and unstoppable beat filling up the Echo on Sunday night, the kind of beat that can go on for hours and hours without boring you, an infernal machine kind-of noise, infectious, inducing a slow trance and installing a borderline scary but always thrilling atmosphere.

Fujiya and Miyagi is a mysterious and exotic name to begin with, but these guys are not from the Far East, they are British, but they work on the mysterious and sculpt the creepy, playing a sort of nouveau Krautrock.

With David Best’s whispered paranoiac vocals – certainly evoking Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja’s at times – Steve Lewis’ spacey or macabre-ish synths, Matt Hainsby’s bass alternating between funk and pulsing, and Lee Adams’ cold steady drumbeats, the songs were some long and fast drive through landscapes whose climate was going from a monotonous dance (‘Ankle Injuries’ or ‘Knickerbocker’) to a threatening tension (‘Ventriloquizzing’).

Dressed up in Adidas sport wear, the quartet was headlining the evening and the Echo was really packed despite the torrential cold rain that had fallen all day long, and this made the band thank the crowd several times, still having a hard time believing Los Angelinos would be so brave.

Many of the songs were these slow cooking numbers, engineered around pulsating repetitive grooves, building a tension only reinforced by the repetitiveness of the mantra-lyrics, which, at this point, didn’t always make any sense, sound triumphing over sense. But when they did make sense, they were going into dark territories, probably only bearable when taken with humor and irony. ‘I’ll beat you sixteen shades of black and blue’ menacingly sang Best in ‘Sixteen Shades of Black and Blue’, a song that started with these threatening Depeche-Mode-like guitars.

But I should not forget to say how many of these heavy beats were danceable, in a hypnotic kind of way, accompanied by long suspended notes on synth and enough distortion coming from David Best’s guitar to revive the rock from Krautrock: he was shredding in a unique way, running his hand very fast along the neck and violently using the whammy bar.

On Sunday night, they performed many songs from their fourth and recently released album ‘Ventriloquizzing’, but also from their 2006 ‘Transparent Things’ and 2008 ‘Lightbulbs’, and each one they played seemed to be deeply layered, mixing electronic beats, dance, funk and of course (Kraut)rock, explaining why Best cites Can as an influence, but also… Serge Gainsbourg, … oh really?

Cat Got Your Tongue
Cassette single
Tinsel & Glitter

Sixteen Shades of Black & Blue
Ankle injuries
Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style


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