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Happy Family - Toscco CD (album) cover

TOSCCO

Happy Family

 

Zeuhl

3.96 | 103 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Toscco" has to be one of the most accomplished masterpieces of today's experimental prog. Coming from Japan, Happy Family delivers an amazing musical vision in which extravagance, agression and dementia combine in a simbiosis solidly founded on the confluence of radical Crimson and a raw version of zheul standards (Dr. Nerve, anyone?). You can also notice similarities with NeBeLNeST and Höyry-Kone, although, unlike the former, the keyboard parts are not as absorbing (not even in the spacier moments), and unlike both, Happy Family tends to put more emphasis on the jazzier side of experimental prog. Regarding this aforesaid factor, you can notice more similarities with Present, but again, Happy Family manages to create a robist world of their own within the confines of their own avant-garde style. "Toscco" gets started with a very languid piece, which is too far from melancholic, it is actually quite sordid in its mistery: the cadence portrayed in 'The Great Man' bears a freaky vibe that seems to precede a terrible danger that's on the brink. After this peculiar prelude, comes the manifestation of the general rule: pure expression of overwhelming madness delivered with neurotic intelligence and dynamic complexity. The sonic storm with which 'Overdrive Locomotive' is an explosion that marks the theme's inherent tension, a tension that makes its presence palpable even in the least explosive passages: this is what happens when RIO flirts with thrash metal and math-rock. The calculated saturating dirtiness of Myano's bass lines and Izutani's guitar leads create a magnificent triangle with Hagase's intrincate drumming, with Morimoto's keyboards laying harmonies, adonrments and brief solos, all of them cleverly weird. The band creates such a powerful that it seems as if their monster might as well turn against it and possess it. So here comes the next track, 'Nord Company vs. Lead Company', which bears less contrast, equal madness and more frenzy. Tha jazzy drive of this zheul example is properly ornamented by Izutani's semi-frippian solos. 'Filial Piety at the Dawn' brings some humor with its touches of surf rock and what seems to be ska, augmenting the 80s KC influenced overall ambience. 'The Sushi Bar', one of the epics, kicks off with a 3- minute piano bar section, slow, almost romantic albeit dissonant, until things turn dramatically into a Zappa's "Apostrophe"-meets- 90s KC. The multi-sounding keyboards (alternately emulating marimba, organ, spacey tricks and distorted clavinet) proves vital in order to bring some freshness among the overall oppressive feel. A reprise of the opening theme closes down this 11 3/4 minutes of bizarre progressive greatness. 'He is Coming at Tokyo Station' is an excercise in deconstructive orchestrations, wicked and funny at the same time - very akin to Dr. Nerve. Retaking shapes and ambiences from tracks 2 and 3, 'The Picture Book - X Rated' turns aout to be the ñeast difficult track in the album, catchy in a rare manner (although still relying heavily on weird stuff). The album's second epic is 'The Three Leaves Insect', occupying a 12+ span. Starting with an almost post-rock crepuscular atmosphere, things get more playful and explicit from minute 3 onwards. What happens from there is a sort of ecapitulation of the most exciting atmospheres that had already been anticipated in the prior tracks. The Zappa factor remains predominant among the sinister RIO-meets-zheul general trend. The albums is closed down by an acoustic reprise of the first track: it is very serene, an unexpected closure delivered on acoustic guitar and accordion. "Toscco" is quite impressive, a gem for stubborn lovers of avant-garde prog (as well as a nightmare for lovers of more conventional melodic art-rock), and of course, a living proof of zheul genre's ongoing vitality. Happy family are real masters of bizarre progresive rock.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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