Happy Family — "Flying Spirit Dance" Live
((Not on label) no#, 1994, MC)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1993-10-01It's rare that I'll devote an extensive review to cassette, let alone to a demo cassette - but this band is so special that I feel compelled to sound out their praise far and wide. Happy Family are probably the most powerful proponents of the Univers Zero / Magma sound in Japan today - and unlike the band Ruins, who have focused in on a single aspect of the Magma sound and redelivered it with an almost-punk urgency, Happy Family covers a much wider range of musical territory and follows it through with much of their own style and superb musicianship; at moments one may hear echoes of Crimson in their Larks' Tongues period, perhaps the hard-driving spirit of Italy's Area, or even the abstract angularity of Art Zoyd. The lineup is Ken'ichi Morimoto (keyboards), Shigeru Makino (guitar), Tatsuya Miyano (bass,sax) and Keiichi Nagase (drums). Their music is completely instrumental. The bad news is that presently they have no records or CDs to their credit, although live tapes are circulating - despite their being together for well over five years. This is is a semi-authorized live demo cassette of two shows recorded at Silver Elephant: side one features a show from 3/3/91, and side two from 12/13/92. The two shows feature ripping high-energy band workouts - guitar and piano riffs all played at breakneck speed, forceful support from an excellent rhythm section, some fusion inspired moments, even some subtle traditional Japanese folk influence mixed with dissonance and schizophrenic guitar leads. Their cover of Area's "Cometa Rossa" leads into a very speedy "Rock and Young," building and expanding, shredding everything in its path. Keywords here are fast, urgent, dark and dissonant, like a Univers Zero on amphetamines. The word about is that their first CD is in the planning stage, with a possible 94 release date.
Related artist(s): Happy Family
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