On Fujiya & Miyagi’s new record there’s a line that goes: “on social media platforms, the general consensus is our popularity has declined since 2006, and our playlists are full of privately educated kids, singing in falsetto about the overprivileged lives that they live.” It’s hardly a conventional lyric, and it’s delivered with a fitting level of dryness. It’s indicative of a self deprecating streak present throughout the album. Having formed the best part of twenty years ago, it may well be the case that Fujiya & Miyagi’s popularity has declined since 2006 but it’s the almost indifferent acknowledgement of it and dour humour that comes with it that makes the line smart.
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The wryly titled ‘Extended Dance Mix’ is the song that birthed that particular line, and it gives a good indication of the tone throughout Fujiya & Miyagi’s self titled sixth long player. It’s an understated record; there’s no shortage of trancy Kraftwerkian grooves on display here; but the band very purposefully keep things low-key for the most part. Vocal delivery is discreet and musically the band keep things relatively simple, emphasising a strong sense of groove in the music at all times. This does lend the album a very distinct sound that the band rarely deviate from but that does allow the album a strong sense of continuity and cohesion.
The snappy avant-disco of ‘Serotonin Rushes’ and the spacious groove of ‘Freudian Slips’ are hard to resist, and the instrumental album opener ‘Magnesium Flares’ brings to mind the blurry atmosphere of Harmonia. Sonically Fujiya & Miyagi sit somewhere between the far-flung experimentalism of bands like Cluster and Neu!, the more low key end of late ’90s dance music and the proto-trance of Giorgio Moroder. It’s a set of influences that meld well, and give the album a distinct sound.
‘Fujiya & Miyagi’ is a record arguably out of time; as ‘Extended Dance Mix’ wryly suggests, it does indeed sound more like the product of a band from 10 or 15 years ago, but don’t take that as a bad thing. Fujiya & Miyagi are enough of a longstanding act who long ago carved out a faithful following and, for those, this album once again delivers the goods. For those unfamiliar with the group but hankering after repetitive, krautrock-tinged dance music free of the genre’s contemporary clichés, this album is well worth a listen.