Written by Jenn Metzler
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:05
Ventriloquizzing puts you in a dimly lit room having what you thought was a just a friendly chat, except that your friend is telling you more than you ever wanted to hear.
Some may lazily brush Fujiya and Miyagi’s fourth LP Ventriloquizzing off as a concept album. Though the album reaches to a dark and murky depth, this is a far cry from a ‘concept.’ Fujiya and Miyagi’s signature funky, driving bass and enigmatic synth hooks are present along a darker than usual set of lyrics, making singer David Best’s hushed vocals nearly creepy. The album gives off a conflicting vibe; Fujiya and Miyagi of the past was a bit of a subdued dance party, light and uplifting with bass lines to make you move your feet, but Ventriloquizzing puts you in a dimly lit room having what you thought was a just a friendly chat, except that your friend is telling you more than you ever wanted to hear. The bass line is still thumping away while Best sings of popping pills, beating someone until they are black and blue, and is altogether riddled with tension.
Unfortunately, the brightest element of Ventriloquizzing is the production done by Devandra Banhart’s producer, Thom Monahan. Not much can be said of the album other than that it’s exceptionally mediocre. On its title track, the listener is lured in to the snare with a haunting synthesizer line and propelling 4/4 drum loop. “Taiwanese Roots” loosens things up with a gritty, four to the floor beat and quirky keyboard riff. “Yoyo,” though, sends monotony into overdrive. Aside from the contrived lyrics and repetitive “you go up and down like a yo-yo,” the actual music of the track leaves much to be desired.
The album doesn’t have much in the way of stand-out tracks, but it’s closest is “Pills.” The song starts out with a simple fuzzed-out guitar line and blinking synthesizers, with Best warning “these little pills will give you dizzy spells,” then throws the listener into a breakout of rousing drums, keyboards and ominous, harmonic “oohs” and “aahs.”
“Ok” is the ice bath to “Pills,” as its calming beat reassures the listener that they’re still listening to Fujiya and Miyagi. The achingly deliberate “Spilt Milk” finds Best employing a disjointed cadence to fit the lyrics into their oddly shaped musical styling. The album closes out with “Universe,” making the listener feel guilty and pinned to the wall as they’re told, in the absence of music, “you love to hear the sound of your own voice,” then (again, repeatedly), “you are not the center of the universe.” Always nice to wrap up an album on a doomed and conscience-stricken note.
Times must have been gloomy in Brighton while the boys wrote this album, and this is regrettably passed along to listeners. The brooding melodies, minor key chords and forced lyrics make the album forgettable, and it almost doesn’t even suffice for a listenable background soundtrack. C | Jenn Metzler
Originally posted at Playback:STL on February 8th, 2011.