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

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
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 and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

2018-02-26
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


Previously in Exposé...

László Hortobágyi - Summa Techonologiae – While not well known in the States, Hungary's László Hortobágyi has for most of the 90s been making some of the most exciting ethno-electronic music available anywhere. Another disc from the...  (1999) » Read more

Agitation Free - Malesch – Agitation Free was a most unique German band in the early seventies, in that their sound was heavily influenced by Turkish and Arabic themes, although never more so than on this, their first, from...  (1994) » Read more

The Black Noodle Project - Play Again – Thick and chunky spacerock mannerisms assault unsuspecting onlookers before settling into the interactive stylistic conflagrations that expansive progressive rock is known for. This is classic...  (2007) » Read more

Thinking Plague - A History of Madness – Most music critics (and listeners too) tend to get caught up in the genre game when describing music. We think in terms of qualities like loud/soft, electric/acoustic, rocks/doesn’t. But there...  (2003) » Read more

Drama - Drama – No, not that one or that one or that one. This is the newest installment of Museaprog, an almost indigenous sub-genre of progressive rock's most successful label. J'aime le Minimum Vital et...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues