Talk about a welcome return! Japanese Zeuhl favorites Happy Family last graced us with their offbeat take on progressive rock back in 1997 on Tossco, and they have finally regrouped with the line-up of Kenichi Morimoto (keyboards), Takahiro Izutani (guitar), Hidemi Ichikawa (bass), and Keiichi Nagase (drums) for their third release on the respected Cuneiform Records label, titled Minimal Gods. If you loved their mix of King Crimson, Magma, Univers Zero, and Henry Cow before, you'll be happy to know that the band are firing on all cylinders once again.
First things first, those into highly melodic music that makes perfect sense probably need to get up and leave now. Happy Family make no bones about their desire to create off-kilter, highly complex music with a savage nature. Morimoto's light, airy electric piano provides some levity, but the complex nature of his lines only feeds into the thunderous, raging riffs of Izutani and the wild rhythms from Ichikawa & Nagase. "Rodrigo" is a complete mind-blower, sort of like a head on collision between Red era King Crimson, Return to Forever, and Magma, and "Portal Site For Sightseeing" is a prog & jazz-fusion lovers dream, with tasty electric piano vamping complementing the elastic guitar lines and nimble rhythms. Impossibly complex tracks such as "Slide", "Doggy-Human Contest", and "Cat Riding On Roomba" are a must hear for any fan of Gentle Giant, Henry Cow, Return to Forever, and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the metallic muscle displayed on "Celestial Illegal Construction" and "Tibidabo" hint that these guys could probably even be a killer heavy metal band if they wanted to.
Let's hope that it's not another 17 years before Happy Family graces us with some more new music, but whatever the wait might be, we have Minimal Gods to enjoy for years to come. This is blistering, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping stuff, a must hear for anyone into instrumental prog, avant-garde, and jazz-fusion.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
2. No Talent, No Smell
4. Portal Site For Sightseeing
5. Doggy-Human Contest
6. Animal Spirit
7. Cat Riding On Roomba
8. Celestial Illegal Construction
10. Feu De Joie