Happy Family Japan

A13 Mostly Instrumental4 Prog8
[Spectacularly Awesome Musicianship2, Solidly Awesome Production2, Beyond Great Composition2, Great Songwriting2 and Quite Good Coverart2]
added by Mike
Links:BCPA
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Review by bartyMJ published
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B Eclectic Prog Avant Zeuhl/Metal

Eccentric, heavy, chaotic, avant-garde… skilful. Whereas Ruins, another proponent of Japanese chaos, often just sound like they’ve thrown a drum kit down the stairs and shouted about it, Happy Family’s brand of carnage sounds pretty well choreographed. Particularly interesting to me on a number of tracks is the style on the keyboard – at times if you listen to it in isolation, you could imagine it being used on a soundtrack to that era’s latest Sega or Nintendo offering. But then all of a sudden drums and guitars take over (maybe it’s the boss level?). The biggest challenge, although perhaps it’s a bit unnecessary, is pinning this down to a ‘genre’. Rock & Young, and Shige et Osanna are two examples of this eccentric and chaotic metal soundtracks to battles with Dr Robotnik. The first time you really think of Zeuhl influences is the intro of Partei, which is certainly a Zeuhl influenced Jazz fusion track with a really crunchy bass guitar that to me at least is a classic metal hallmark too. Rolling the Law Court though is more avant-jazz than metal (maybe it’s the Frank Zappa brass instruments?), before Kaiten Ningen Gyorai is back to the Zeuhl inspired metal like Partei. Naked King – the 19 minute thumper – Zeuhl, RIO, elements of King Crimson, and still sounding like a Sega boss battle. It’s a slow burner with some seriously sludgey bass, but unfortunately being this long its actually the first time I’d pass on listening to a track again. The almost standstill pace increases quickly to a chaotic crescendo after 15 minutes, and the drumming in particular is pretty stellar. I wish they’d have ended the album here but instead we’re given a minute and a half of piano plinking and squeaky toy noises (drums whisper spacy a very misleading title). With two tracks to go I was on the verge of giving this a really high rating, in the context of Zeuhl style albums, but less impressed by most of the last 20 minutes. Still, a low 4 stars, and a must listen for anyone exploring a niche genre, and who wants a way in via something slightly closer to metal in some of its style.

Review by Bj-1 published
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Toscco 1997
S RIO/Zeuhl

Often considered as a Zeuhl band, but I rather think this is more in the Avant-Prog terretory. Anyway, this is one of my finest discoveries in a long time, Happy Family's second album offers you a ride you'll never forget. This is hyper-active and very quirky and complex Avant-Prog that even manages to not sound boring at all, kinda' comparable to stuff like Mr. Bungle's "Disco Volante" etc. The musicianship is brilliant; every player here seems to know exactly what they're doing and when it comes to technical competence it's clearly that these guys are especially talented. The overall album mood rarely changes, still the music and song writing is wonderfully diverse and original and never get's repetitive at all, a sadly rare case for many albums. The guitar often has a metal sounding style to it and some sections featured here could be described as Avant-Metal.

This one surely deserves a masterpiece rating. For fans of modern Avant-Prog and Zeuhl especially. I highly recommend you to pick this one up if you like these types of bands!

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