The brilliantFujiya & Miyagi are back with a new album called Ventriloquizzing. Building on their 21st-century Krautrock sound, Ventriloquizzing contains eleven brand new songs including the lead single Yo Yo. With production by Thom Monahan (Vetiver, Au Revoir Simone), Ventriloquizzing sees the Brighton-based puppet masters edge towards a darker, more atmospheric sound while retaining their twisted sense of humour. Read on for more, and as an extra special treat, David Best (Fujiya & Miyagi’s frontman and guitarist) kindly discusses his Top Ten Favourite Tracks.
Ventriloquizzing opens with the title track, a creeping Motorik song that’s right up there with Ankle Injuries from 2006’s Transparent Things. 16 Shades Of Black And Blue has Gainsbourg-esque Nightclubbing vibe and is accompanied by a magical video featuring the Fujiya & Miyagi ventriloquist dummies: four custom-made mannequins originally commissioned for photoshoots to promote the album but who seem to have taken on a life of their own…
Cat’s Got Your Tongue is classic F&M fused with Northern Soul, while Taiwanese Boots draws inspiration and an eco-conscious nod from Bob Dylan’s Boots Of Spanish Leather. Yo Yo is the first single, a song about “people being unable to make their minds up without outside influences” and with another polished video starring UK yoyo champion Luke Roberts. Directors Ewan and Casey explain the thinking behind the video:
“To make things a bit more interesting we decided to have the video reflect the more sinister aspects of the track, mood swings or people who constantly change their minds. We thought it would be amusing if Luke competed with performers with talents totally different from his own and jealousy would take hold and he defeats them with spiteful yoyo manoeuvres.“
Minestrone is a great example of the warped and wicked English sense of humour on this album; a tale of the Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex and the local legend that the Devil can be summoned by running around the clump of trees seven times anti-clockwise. When he appears he will offer you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul.
Tinsel and Glitter is another favourite of mine (and another slice or warped Krautrock). Universe closes the album, telling us that “there is no centre of the universe.” Listen to this one with headphones for that extra chill.
I was a bit disappointed with Fujiya & Miyagi’s second album (2008’s Lightbulbs), but Ventriloquizzing is miles better and brings them right back onto my weekly playlist. The addition of some Californian sunshine has paradoxically led to their deepest and darkest album yet, and the analogue synths used throughout match this new direction perfectly.
My Top Ten Tracks: Fujiya & Miyagi
Here are ten favourite songs as chosen by David Best. Only three of them are currently on Spotify so I’ve included links to those directly.
1. Terry Riley – In the Summer
This is off a soundtrack he did in the 70s called Lifespan. I could have picked all Terry Riley songs for my top ten as I am listening to him more than anybody else at the moment. Persian Surgery Dervishes is another favourite of mine. This song reminds me of something from My Bloody Valentine’s loveless. It’s incredible.
I was lucky enough to find a copy of this on vinyl in Rounder records a few weeks ago. It’s from the LP Just Landed Cosmic Kid which has a cover where Mr Bundt looks like a tranny. It’s got crazy drums and sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday rather than 1977 or whenever it was.
I put this record on when I’m eating breakfast. It’s a nice way to ease yourself into the day. I’m getting into long pieces of music which you can just drift in and out of. Despite the fact it appears to not have lots going on i never get bored of hearing it. Maybe that’s the trick as there’s nothing irritating in it.
This is from a Bollywood soundtrack. They were obviously influenced by Giorgio Moroder with the bassline from I Feel Love so there is a nice clash of styles in it. I don’t know much about Bollywood stuff but I’m going to try and find some more like this. Boom Boom by Nazia Hassan is another great song with a Moroder influence, although the chorus sounds a bit Eurovision.
5. Laurie Spiegel – Patchwork
This has a lot of the same characteristics of the Riley and Eno songs I picked earlier. It has lots of repetitive synth melodies which overlap. She was an electronics pioneer who went on to design music software for computers.
6. Kha Ym – Un Matin a St. Anand
Un Matin a St. Anand is from the LP 10″ GMT and the group were French. I think this is from the late seventies. It reminds me in some places of the first few Franco Battiato records such as Fetus or Pollution. It mixes synths with drums and live instruments. I’m hoping somebody will re-release this on vinyl soon. I don’t know if either members of the group recorded anything else but I hope they did.
7. Angel Rada – Carillion
I found this on the Mutant Sounds blog who have shared some incredible records. Angel Rada is from Venezuela and I believe this was released in 1980. It uses those great sounding primitive drum machines that are on so many records from the seventies like Cluster’s Zuckerzeit, and like the Kha-ym record it’s full to the brim with melodies and synth sounds. Carillion is on the LP Upadesa, which is another record I’d like to own.
8. Günter Schickert- Apricot Brandy
This is from the LP Samtvogel which has just been reissued on Wah Wah records from Spain. This and his 2nd LP Uberfallig are both really interesting. He used lots of echo effects on his guitar and whispers some stuff occasionally on top. This song reminds me of something from Tago Mago but he definitely had his own thing too.
9. Charanjit Singh – Raga Madhuvanti
He was a Bollywood session musican who invented acid house two years before anybody else, but no one realised until recently.
10. The Plastic People of the Universe – Toxika
Czech group from the 60s and 70s. Toxika is from the LP Egon Bondy’s Happy Hearts Club Banned.
Ventriloquizzing is available now in Europe via Full Time Hobby, with a US release at the end of the month.
The Pansentient League is a blog from Edinburgh-based writer Jer White (also known as Afront). It's mostly about music-streaming service Spotify, with a dose of synthpop music, Google Android, and the odd post or two about gadgets and science fiction.