Selected by Dan
Leading Brit-rockers Oasis, Travis
and Radiohead may have hit Japan this summer and fall, but look for Wales' Super Furry
Animals to provide a more intriguing taste of current UK sounds. The five-piece bring
their new album Rings Around The World to Japan for a three-date tour that stops down for
one night at Shibuya AX.
Why the Super Furry Animals and not the much-hyped Radiohead? Fans of Kid A and Amnesiac
may beg to differ, but Rings Around The World is a far more convincing fusion of rock and
electronica than either of Radiohead's efforts. Released in July, the album has already
been short-listed for England's prestigious Mercury Prize.
Formed in Cardiff, Wales, the Super Furry Animals were part of the mid-90s Welsh-pop
movement that also brought us the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Stereophonics. Led
by singer Gruff Rhys, the band initially started as a techno unit, but soon evolved into a
forward-thinking pop unit, heavily influenced by psychedelia.
Super Furry Animals signed with local indie imprint Ankst for their debut EP, the
monstrously named Lianfairpwllgywgyllgoger Chwymdropwiltysiliogoygoyocynygofod (In Space),
sung entirely in Welsh.
Having gained a strong cult following in the UK, the group then signed with Creation for
their debut album Fuzzy Logic. Singing now in English in order to reach a wider audience,
SFA scored a major hit with both the public and the press.
Radiator followed in 1997 and Guerrila in 1999, with another all-Welsh outing, MWNG,
appearing in 2000.
Rings Around The World has to be the band's most ambitious attempt to date. Recorded over
seven months in New York State's counterculture town of Woodstock, the album is a
remarkably imaginative and unpretentious affair that also features cameo appearances by
Paul McCartney and John Cale.
The band has also taken an unconventional approach to releasing and touring for the album.
SFA commissioned short films by a slew of independent film directors for each DVD version
of the album's 18 songs. The DVD version was released simultaneously with the CD version,
which includes only 12 songs.
Meanwhile, the band recently held a series of "Furry Mania" promotional shows
around the UK that featured sets of old material followed by sets of songs from Rings. For
the older material, SFA wrote down song titles on tiny balls, and drew them randomly from
a bingo machine to determine the play list. Can Japan expect the same?
Super Furry Animals
play Club Quattro on Oct 17 and Shibuya AX on Oct 18 and 19. .See listings for details.