Dec 13, 2010

Paint the fence, strum the guitar

Fugiya and Miyagi, at Otto Santral (11.12.10)

If you want to lose friends gradually, be in a band with them. If you want a quicker and precise exit strategy, write about their music. So here goes...

Fugiya and Miyagi are a Brighton-based latter-day Neu and Can distillation, which they have redacted into kraut-lite. Malcolm Mooney's breathy vocals the Deutsche dub found on Saw Delight and a motorik beat. The rest of the songs fall into the modern indie template, albeit a fresher and more intelligent take. (Clippy disco hi-hats, funkish guitar chops, A Certain Ratio bass.)

The set was well paced but missing the usual dynamics of a live performance because there was no guitar amp on stage, meaning there was none of the frequency and warmth of an over-driven
amplifier. There is no such texture from a monitor, certainly not for the front rows of the audience at any rate, as the PA sends the front of house mix over their heads. Also, the maximal drumming pushed the on-stage volume instantly to the top leaving no headroom.

I've seen the band four times and they are not bad. They've broke free of the Brighton band curse: Too many hometown gigs, a record that doesn't capture your energy and then sink without a trace. (I've been there and done that.)

The refernces and influences are all in place, but they need to define their own space. The guitarist's choice of instrument says it all: a J. Mascis special edition purple Fender Jazzmaster. A vintage Jazzmaster is indie-rock standard equipment, but a custom shop repro says as much about a musician as a Harley Davidson says about a bank manager.

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