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Fujiya & Miyagi Ventriloquizzing
Released 14 January 2011

Fujiya & Miyagi,
Thom Monahan
Label Full Time Hobby
Length 39:35
Genre Kraut, funk, electronica
Website www.fujiya-miyagi.co.uk

Fujiya & Miyagi are a band with a bit of an identity crisis; four English men pretending to be Japanese, producing music in the German genre of Krautrock, it’s quite an international blend of ingredients that has earned the band some considerable recognition from the press over the years. The band now returns with their fourth studio album, Ventriloquizzing.

The album kicks off with the title track, opening with oriental styled synths that give way for the more recognizable bass driven Krautrock sound, David Best chipping in with his trademark half-whispered half-sung vocals. 'Sixteen Shades of Black & Blue' is up next; a track that is quite dark and menacing in atmosphere. The lyrics aren’t up to a whole lot, using Fujiya & Miyagi’s habit of recycling the same lyric over and over again. It’s a habit that worked well on songs like 'Knickerbocker' from 2008’s Lightbulbs, but here it barely avoids becoming annoying, this however does not ring true for the rest of the album.

I’m not a lyrical snob, as much as I like deep lyrics with multiple meanings I can accept that meaningless lyrics don’t necessarily ruin a song. Does anyone really know what Antony Kiedis is on about half the time? Probably not but it never stopped Red Hot Chili Peppers selling albums. So for lyrics to get to me they would need to be either very lazy or very corny, Ventriloquizzing manages at times to be both. The first example of this comes with 'Cat Got Your Tongue' with the lines "You don’t know which side your bread is buttered on" and "Has the cat got your tongue?" repeated ad nauseum. Similarly 'Yoyo' rehashes the uninspired line "You go up and go down like a yoyo" quite frequently and you could probably guess what the refrain of 'Spilt Milk' is. However the worst example of lazy writing comes in closing track 'Universe' with the self referencing a capella opening lyric "You love to hear the sound of your own voice"- I was just thinking the exact same thing.

Despite their reliance on the repetitive quasi-philosophical mantras, there is evidence of a talent for writing impressive lyrics, this comes to the fore on 'Minestrone', a song exploring a Bloody Mary-esque rite to summon the devil. Best’s gritty lyrics roll off his tongue in a manner reminiscent of Massive Attack’s 3D. It’s impressive to hear but moments like this don’t come around too often.

Ventriloquizzing feels like a step backwards, the songs for the most part are quite forgettable and I just couldn’t warm to the album as a whole. There are times when they show glimpses of what they are capable but these pass quickly. There will be more to come from Fujiya & Miyagi but this is undoubtedly a blemish on their record.

- Brian Kinsella