Fujiya & Miyagi played The Independent by Alamo Square on Monday night. I had seen them at the same venue maybe two years ago. They are an English dance rock band with roots in German 'motorik,' Neu!, the hypnotic side of Can, Kraftwerk, and the deep, danceable grooves of "Remain in Light"-era Talking Heads.
Their visual style is arresting, as here on "Ankle Injuries," from 2006:
Fujiya, or rather David Best of Brighton, England, hardly ever raises his voice, preferring breathing effects like "-ah, -ah," or "rap-bap-bappity-bap -Ts," and leaning hard on strange words like "Minestrone!" that make them a bigger deal than you can imagine, like the revelation of the culprit in a crime. His lead guitar antics seem haphazard, as though he's just woken up and is diddling a riff for the first time, but are expert & intricate.
Miyagi, aka Steve Lewis on synthesizer, spreads his keyboards across the song effortlessly, adding enough surprises to keep each song unique when the rhythm is relentless. The bass & drum team of Matt Hainsby & Lee Adams tie everything down, lending a pulsing drive that makes crowds dance.
Their latest album, Ventriloquizzing, veers toward the darker end of the kosmische spectrum. I still listen to the previous two albums, Lightbulbs (2008), and Transparent Things (2006), all the time.
In concert, they seem like unlikely heroes. On record, there's no doubt that they are..."like pixelated scraps of jazz max in your head...lights."