Exposé Online banner

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

by Peter Thelen, 1995-11-01:

Happy Family Cover art

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?


by Mike McLatchey, 1995-11-01:

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!


Filed under: New releases , Issue 8 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Happy Family

More info

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Billy Currie - Push – Ex-Ultravox member Billy Currie’s fifth album is another tour de force of synthesizers and stringed instruments that captures a unique romantic niche. Currie has been refining his approach for over...  (2003) » Read more

Iona - Beyond These Shores – Three albums on now, Iona's latest release shows a higher degree of maturity and refinement overall. Still solidly in the Celtic folk-rock vein, they are in many ways comparable to bands like Clannad...  (1995) » Read more

Jan Hammer - The First Seven Days – Ah, for those simpler days, before New Age fossilized into colorless bits of seemingly nutritious but flavor-free soy-based meat substitutes, before anyone realized that there was no place for...  (2005) » Read more

Halloween - Merlin – I didn't have very high expectations for this, after all their first two albums were somewhat short of spectacular, especially with their dreadfully pronounced English vocals. Within one minute of...  (1994) » Read more

Les Batteries - Démesure Révolutionnaire – "Les Batteries." That means "The Drums" in French, as in the drums of the French revolution. That should give one a good idea as to what this French duo is all about, and despite...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues