One recurring theme of this rundown of 2016’s best albums is the rhetorical question “why the fuck not?” — the idea that no idea is to absurd to milk to its last lunatic essence. Enter the Foodman, with this pinging, clanging, buzzing pinball machine of an album. It’s all over the place, hyperactively ricocheting off glitches, between samples and bubblegum synth licks, never giving you time to pin it down to anything consistent beyond that it’s an album that revels in its inconsistency.
Ez Minzoku is for the most part a collection of, admittedly eclectic, instrumental electronic tracks, but it does feature guest vocals on a couple of tracks. The opening Beybey features the breathy “idol rap” of Taigen Kawabe from psychedelic rockers Bo Ningen. Mid Summer Night features vocals from Diskomargaux alongside washes of retro synths that plant the track loosely at the nexus between chillwave and City Pop (an increasingly densely populated pop junction in Japan these days). Elsewhere, tracks like Jazz and Rock label the sources of their musical acquisitions clearly, the former ending up sounding more like a collision between hip hop and the Canterbury scene psychedelia of Gong, and the latter throwing in a high-sugar dose of 8-bit video game chiptune for good measure. All these tracks, however, disrupt their diversions into genre with the same propensity for fractured beats and dispersed pops and bleeps that characterise the rest of the album.
If these descriptions seem to muddy rather than illuminate what’s going on with Ez Minzoku, that’s down to the playfully disruptive nature of the music itself, pulling pop sounds into a decidedly avant-garde process and spitting out something nonetheless accessible and fun at the end of it. Unclassifiable and magnificent for that.