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'Motorik' rocks the house

Melody, lyrics, chord patterns - these building blocks of pop music composition are constantly being updated, reinvented or recontextualized. Great leaps forward in rhythm, however, are fewer and farther between.

Melody, lyrics, chord patterns - these building blocks of pop music composition are constantly being updated, reinvented or recontextualized. Great leaps forward in rhythm, however, are fewer and farther between.

In the early '70s, experimental German musicians known as Krautrockers, including the bands Neu and Kraftwerk, moved beat science a few steps forward. They used a distinctive and utterly propulsive 4/4 beat that would later become known as motorik, the German word meaning "motor skills." The motorik beat, it was said, mimicked the feel and flow of cruising Germany's famed Autobahn, the state-of-the-art highway where speed knows no limits.

The British electronica outfit Fujiya & Miyagi, darlings of the indie scene thanks to the recent stateside release of Transparent Things, are the latest proponents of the motorik beat - combining it with clean, jangling guitar lines, rutting bass, chilled-out synth textures and whispery incantatory vocals to create state-of-the-art indie dance music.

The group's performance Saturday night before a packed house at Johnny Brenda's made a few things clear:

First, Fujiya & Miyagi are neither Japanese nor a duo, and are in fact three thirtysomething Caucasians from Brighton in droopy T-shirts and vintage Adidas shell toes.

Second, for guys who look more at home dispensing sodden jeers in the cheap seats of a football match than on the dance floor, they are certifiably funky Homo sapiens - like a Gang of Four that's more interested in the politics of dancing than the dance of politics.

Third, they make it look so easy. Live, F & M is a three-piece comprised of bassist Matt Hainsby, guitarist/lead singer David Best and DJ Steve Lewis, who triggered the drum loops and heady miscellaneous sonic filigree of the recordings.

Opening with the trundling "Ankle Injuries" and closing with the evocatively titled "Electro Karaoke In The Negative Style," F&M proved that, if nothing else, the motorik beat is in good hands.

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