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Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday February 19, 2011

Bernard Zuel

FUJIYA & MIYAGIVentriloquizzing(Full Time Hobby/Other Tongues)RATING: 3.5/5The dry tones of David Best might suggest detachment from the sometimes grim, sometimes disarmingly English-as-a-second-language situations of his lyrics.I wouldn't bet on it. You don't walk away from these tales or the almost permanent sense of simmering menace (even when he's funny) feeling indifferent, no matter how coolly Best, Stephen Lewis, Matthew Hainsby and Lee Adams deliver their measured electronica. As with Underworld's Karl Hyde, Best's weakness as a singer is a strength as a narrative presence, his vocals sometimes operating in the same way as a not-entirely-trustworthy film noir voice-over.You will have noticed the members of Fujiya & Miyagi are not, as the name would suggest, either a duo or Japanese. What's more, the four Englishmen play music taken freely from the mix of intense but low-impact funk, darker undertones and art-house manoeuvrings of German group Can. What they add to Can is some of the chilly mechanics of the early-'80s nascent electronic scene: more machine-like, more night-time streetscapes, more controlled rhythm. The combination makes you move but not actually dance, and troubles you without ever putting you into the gloom.There might not be any outright "pop" bits here but play all 44 minutes and you'll feel the kind of momentum shift that does a good impression of melodic shapes. LIKE THIS? TRY THESEUnderworld, A Hundred Days Off; Can, Tago Mago

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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