Sometimes a whisper moves you more than a scream. Case in point: Brighton, England, trio Fujiya & Miyagi. Cresting with their excellent U.S. debut disc, Transparent Things, F&M are part of an exciting Neu! wave of groups worshipping the motorik rhythm. (Others include Tussle, 120 Days, Whitey, and the Early Years.)
Fujiya & Miyagi's David Best (vocals, guitar, Korg) explains the attraction to motorik, a beat that originated with Can's "Mother Sky" and peaked with Neu!'s "Hallogallo." For its evocation of limitless, frictionless movement, motorik is one of the greatest rhythms ever conceived, a triumph of German engineering.
"It instantly sounds good, for a start," Best says with utmost reasonableness. "It's like a statement of intent. It can also take away from what else you are doing. For example, on our record there are only three songs with a motorik rhythm. On the other songs we've got funk, hiphop, '60s freakbeat, and electronic rhythms. They never get mentioned 'cause in the press release it says we like Kraut rock, so the journalist's job is done."
Best is right. Besides being hypnotic, Transparent Things is deceptively funky. See especially "Sucker Punch" and "In One Ear & Out the Other"; the latter sounds like a slower, more subdued version of Roxy Music's dance-rock classic "Love Is the Drug." Was that song an inspiration?
"No, but I like the connection," Best says. "The first five Roxy Music records are among my favorites. Combining electronics with funk bass lines and interesting words is definitely [a] blueprint for what we are trying to do."
When listening to F&M, you may wonder, "Who's the shy Japanese dude whispering witty, hyperaware lyrics in these cool-headed songs?" You'd be wrong, though: It's Best.
"I'm not trying to sound Japanese," he protests. "I like how [Can vocalist] Damo Suzuki sings and that was a big influence on how I started. What I'm singing about is really English, though. You don't have to wrap yourself up in a Union Jack with a bowler hat popped on your head."
While F&M's influences will be apparent to many music geeks and some will bitch about "derivativeness," Transparent Things is nevertheless very enjoyable. Does Best think musical "originality" is impossible at this late date?
"Nothing has ever been original," he says. "Everything has a starting point. We aren't stealing melodies or words. And we aren't pretending that we aren't aware of the groups we admire. I'd rather listen to a group who liked ['70s German trio] Harmonia and it showed rather than a miserable bloke pouring out his heart riddled with clichés on an acoustic guitar 'cause his girlfriend left him for a cooler kid who had a synth and a Kraftwerk record."
THURSDAY MARCH 8
Randy Jones's performance of Six Axioms at last year's Decibel was the most sensually stimulating and intellectually demanding of that excellent festival. The local audio-visual star used a Radio Drum (a kind of three-dimensional theremin, he says) to generate vivid spectra of textures and rhythms that often recalled Terry Riley and Iannis Xenakis's best work, set to morphing, abstract, Stan Brakhage—like images. Jones has also has earned renown as the co-creator of the graphics and matrix-processing program Jitter. You can learn more about Six Axioms and view video samples of it at www.2uptech.com/six_axioms.html. With ndCv and the Now Device. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 329-2629, 9 pm, $8.50, $5 for NWFF members, all ages.
Barcelona denizen Filastine returns to Seattle with his Soot Records boss DJ /rupture. Together these global-music unravelers and hiphop heads trawl the planet to unleash the most radical rhythmic specimens, particularly from the Middle East, Caribbean, and Africa. As both DJs and producers, Filastine and /rupture favor the raw and galvanic over coffee-table-ready conceptions of "world music." They throw a wicked party—and can quote Noam Chomsky at will. CHAC Lower Level, 1621 12th Ave, 388-0569, 9 pm—2 am, $7, 21+.
SATURDAY MARCH 10
JAMIE DROUIN AND YANN NOVAK
Tonight, Victoria's Jamie Drouin and Seattle's Yann Novak hail the release of their collaborative album Auditorium. They decided to work together after discovering they shared an affinity for altered field recordings and "interest in exploring the ability of sound to alter the atmosphere of spaces we inhabit—physically and emotionally." The 48-minute disc is an insular tornado of granular drones (composed of an empty room's tone at Henry Art Gallery) and rents in the space-time continuum; seriously ominous. Jerry Abstract will follow with a DJ set he describes as "very minimal with a dash of ambience." Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave E, www.gallery1412.org, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding scale, all ages.
BRYAN ZENTZ, CODEBASE
Tech-house producer Zentz is a favorite of world-class DJs such as Carl Cox, Kevin Saunderson, Josh Wink, and Tiga. With Krakt resident DJ Kristina Childs. Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 10 pm—2 am, $10, 21+.