Exposé Online banner

Happy Family — Happy Family
(Cuneiform Rune 73, 1995, CD)

by Mike McLatchey, 1995-11-01:

Happy Family Cover art

Here it is at last, the musical equivalent of a 1001 Centigrade enema, the debut of the legendary Happy Family. This one is not for the saccharine-fluffy prog types, this is like Slayer covering Univers Zero tracks — like Paga overdosing on amphetamines. You get it — this is heavy, rapidly paced, balls first and unequivocally brilliant. I'll skip the details, you can read all about them in last issue's article by Dan Casey, but suffice it to say that this is technically outrageous, nearly suffocating in intensity, and very original in its execution (regardless of all the zeuhl / UZ tendencies). Certainly my vote for one of the best of the year, Happy Family have delivered on all the hype!

by Peter Thelen, 1995-11-01:

The long awaited debut CD by this Japanese four-piece is finally here, and indeed it was well worth the wait. It delivers on all the promises that might be expected after hearing the various live tapes that have circulated in the last few years. For a comprehensive history of the band, I would refer the reader to Dan Casey's outstanding artist profile in our last issue.

Happy Family has their sound, culled from the extremes of a rock base and fused with irrepressible energy. From the opening track one will immediately hear the influence of Magma in the playing of bassist Tatsuya Miyano. He actually could be Jannick Top! Yet the Magma influence seems to go no little further than the bass, and for the rest of their sound comparative descriptions must be qualified. The compositions are angular, dark and twisted, with a bit of a chamber feel under the powerful rock surface and lightning speed; kind of like Univers Zero with guitars on amphetamines. Some influence from Crimson abounds too — and not just in their name, especially evident in some of the protracted excursions like "Naked King," "Partei," and "Kaiten." Even some Canterbury elements are here in mild doses, hiding inside tracks like "Rolling the Law Court," where keyboardist Kenichi Morimoto uses some very convincing sax samples (I still swear it's the real thing, but the band's manager has told me otherwise). Throughout, Happy Family has maintained that fresh spark of forward looking originality that points to the future of progressive rock. Five of five stars, this one deserves your attention.

by Mike Ohman, 1995-11-01:

Happy Family recently created a stir in the prog world without ever releasing an album. They are one of those rare few who received a great deal of hype, not by record dealers, but rather by fans. At last their debut album has arrived, so those who have not heard any of their live bootlegs (a good many) can now find out what the big deal is. Happy Family fit in well into the Cuneiform style. Their complex music rather resembles an exclusively rock version of Univers Zero, with touches of middle-period King Crimson intensity, flashes of Area and Henry Cow dissonance, and hypnotic rhythms anchored by powerful bass-lines a la Magma. The basic musical construction is of a repeating pattern gradually building in intensity. While some may find this technique tediously repetitious (a problem many find with Magma as well), it also shows the raw power of the ensemble. The guitar / synths / bass / drums line-up fuses brilliantly, notably on the feature length "Naked King" with its constant build-ups of tension. In fact, the pace does not relent until the final track, the pensive (if somewhat disturbing with its bat-squeak sounds) "Drums Whisper Spacy." The music at its core is fiery rock, with occasional deviations from the norm as on the jazzy "Rolling the Law Court" which sports an arrangement for multiple saxophones. I am pleased to say this album was worth the wait. I'll trust the opinion of my fellow prog-heads over record dealers' hype any day. So since it is the fans that put Happy Family on the map, shouldn’t that tell you something?

Filed under: New releases , Issue 8 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Happy Family

More info

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Tipographica - Tipographica – The Japanese progressive rock scene in the 90s in general has taken a remarkable turn towards a more innovative and unique styling. In the latter half of the 80s, the Japanese focus was on the more...  (1994) » Read more

Black Tape for a Blue Girl - The Scavenger Bride – I really wanted to like this one. I’d read about Black Tape, and they sounded interesting: female vocals fronting ethereal, classical-inflected music with a kind of Gothic mood, but not the heavy...  (2002) » Read more

Saga - Network – Saga just keeps on trucking. Network is like their 947th studio album or something. What’s amazing about Saga is that unlike most bands fortunate enough to have 30-year music careers, these guys...  (2006) » Read more

Adrian Belew - Coming Attractions – Adrian Belew has been very busy in the imposed break from King Crimson. With multiple projects in various stages, it makes sense to market a sampler to highlight each of his works. Obviously,...  (2000) » Read more

Noetics - Delayed Back – Delayed Back is a set of eleven electronica / dub / jazz / trance instrumentals by Noetics from Germany. Noetics is Ole Ohlendorf (keyboards and synths), Christian Schmidt (percussion), Christoph...  (2011) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues