Alibi V.27 No.41 • Oct 11-17, 2018 

Sonic Reducer

Weekly Alibi asked legendary local bud tender and millennial music expert Steve Luthy to tell us about two recordings that he found memorable. Here’s how he replied, with an awesome set of sonic reducers! Send your musical musings to august@alibi.com

Fujiya $ Miyagi Transparent Things (Tirk Recordings)

Flawed poetry, repetitive, sexual and at all times… sticky in your ear, the musings of Fujiya & Miyagi’s break album, Transparent Things is a must hear, first released in 2006 but remastered and dropped from Bandcamp last year. It may also be your only way to understand, appreciate and prepare for their latest material, new single and perhaps, if we are lucky, soon a new album.

Originally a duo, Steve Lewis (synth and production) and David Best (singer and songwriter) rather unabashedly broke into the market with album, Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style but found their sound with Transparent Things hypnotic beats, heavy synth and wildly simple, provocative lyrics. To celebrate all their achievements since, and perhaps make some money, F&M have re-released the album as a completely see-through 120-gramvinyl record. They have taken it a step further too, as they are well into their 2018 North American and European tours. So if you’re like me, you better get your passports in order. They wrapped up in Los Angeles in April and are now preparing for the start of their Euro-tour, starting in Belgrade, 11/2/18; meet my brother and me in Budapest!

Transparent Things seems to tell a piecemeal story of body-parts, office supplies and the fashion items needed to navigate this world successfully. What makes it unique is that it does this all while arguing that these very nuanced and over-generalized things and situations are what make our world incredibly sensuous. I have heard their music described as Krautrock-like and Electronic-esque but why not a new sub-genre … it’s Trans-lucent. It sounds cool and hints at a hypnotic style, eccentric beats and the mesmerizing diary-like episodes of unwavering whisper. Songs like “Photocopier”, “Ankle Injuries” and :Transparent Things” are rated must but the whole album speaks volumes when listened to in its entirety, and sequential order. Listen to this album and become a diehard like me. Listen to the world's newest genre; Join the smallest cult.

Popcaan and Vybz Kartel Gaza Unruly (TJ Records)

Popcaan and Vybz Kartel are strange yet familiar rapper types. Their songs are catchy and not too bad to cruise with, yet that is not the reason you should listen to Popcaan specifically.

Yes he and his crew do the trivial stuff like driving with girls in convertibles and they do the ubiquitous cruising with girls on big boats too, but that's just what makes the videos interesting and marketable to audiences the world over.

Jamaican flavored music, like that of Popcaan and fellow artist, Vybz Kartel, is a huge and sometimes generic export to US college audiences and there is no denying that.

So, wjemn creative and upcoming artists like these to fall so deep into the cliches and over worn tropes of Jamaican imports, their big album, Gaza Unruly sounds like it suffered. However that conceit doesn't end there, at least for Popcaan, because I find solace in his song, “Party Shot.” The potential he exudes on other albums is somewhat redeeming.

What you want to look for is the not-so-normal mode of delivery that Mr Popcaan is presenting to listeners in this song. His words are fast and convoluted, the rhyme is heavy and at times initially out of sync with everything else, but the real goal, to shake your booty and tap your toes feels as normal as it gets.

Mr. Popcaan and his friends fall into stereotypes there is no denying that; but what they do well is take a genre that is overcrowded and given to cliche by nature and made it fun and fresh: it certainly gives you a new rhythm to dance too.

So the album may be bunk. With the host of streaming services and ah, youtube, it would be best to avoid the album purchase and thumb straight to track four. Enjoy the last bit of the this years warmth by pretending to be on a beach where it seems most likely Mr. Popcaan could be—with holidays fast approaching, a tropical-party place where we all wish we could be.

Popcaan: “Party Shot”