Formed in 1987 at Tokyo's University of Meiji, the instrumental quartet Happy Family describes its music as chamber jazz-rock driven by the fast and heavy rhythms of hard rock. Reference points include Magma, Univers Zero and Henry Cow, but Happy Family stakes out its own turf with its stunning, sometimes furious, intensity.
Founding members Kenichi Morimoto (keyboards), Shigeru Makino (guitar) and Tatsuya Miyano (electric fretless bass) were joined by drummer Keiichi Nagase in 1990. This quartet issued several tapes before releasing Happy Family on the Cuneiform label in 1995. Takahiro Izutani replaced Makino, bringing a grittier sound to the group's second CD, Toscco, again on Cuneiform.
Morimoto, who enjoys jazz-rock, chamber-rock and avant rock, composes much of the group's material. Miyano exemplifies the "zeuhl" style of Magma bassists Jannik Top and Bernard Paganotti. Miyano is a member of Mekanik Kommandoh, a Magma cover band formed by Tatsuya Yoshida, leader of the Japanese punk-zeuhl group, Ruins. Nagase, who designed the covers for the band's releases, contributes rhythmic complexity to Happy Family's music.
-Jim Dorsch (All Music Guide)