WARNING: The shape of this object can only be reconfigured based on a color scale determined by the length at which you can stare directly into it without blinking, so whatever you do, DO NOT BLINK. Other methods of attack include consumption, construction, and more direct eye contact. It is only important to restructure it as such, so that the openings allow for less harmful passage; there is a dangerously high rate of bruising upon entering the mainframe, so for the love of Bob, just fasten your seatbelt already. Don’t you like that little clicking sound it makes when you snap it in anyway?
Oh Foodman, what did we ever do to deserve you? Your Rubik’s Cube approach to sound transmogrification may have been born from the sweat of Chicago juke, but now it just feels silly to align the signals you’ve been spewing out with anything resembling a group project. You’re a MacGyver, a Hungry Hungry Hippo, a rhythm-at-all-costs mayhem instigator who nonetheless knows all the backdoors and shortcuts for instilling order in even the most deep-fried of brain circuitry. Ez Minzoku is a deeply fucked bit of voyeurism on our parts into the scribbled diary entries Takahide Higuchi has been slipping us over the past few years, only now we’re finding out that there was actually a code hidden all along in the spaces between the characters, the white paper stock a secret mosaic of smaller clues and gourdblowers adding up to the composite freakgod we call Foodman.
Higuchi always saves his stickiest juice for the Animaniac overlords at Orange Milk, and Ez Minzoku is no different. Just try throwing this shit on at a party and see if everyone DOESN’T immediately rip their clothes off and start doing the crab dance. There isn’t a single moment on Ez Minzoku that isn’t equal parts mouth-watering, terrifying, intimate, and blown out, like a heat-seeking missile dead set on imploding the most fragile parts of your consciousness, going straight for that fold of your cortex you thought you’d been careful enough to keep secret from the outside world. Ez Minzoku isn’t here to adapt to your carefully curated listening environment; it’ll hijack your spine and leave you wriggling on the floor, begging for more of that sweet, dangerous squeak.
With the help of Taigen Kawabe (whose feature credit bashfully includes the clarifier “from Bo Ningen” :3), “Beybey” gets Ez Minzoku off the ground with maximum possible turbulence. It is easily the most abrasive, dissonant, and unsettling creation on the entire album, adequately preparing us for the shimmering ugliness just around the corner. Rhythmically, Foodman maintains his ever-vicious touch throughout, but each composition tackles its own strategy for achieving ultimate energy overload. “dddance” is the first outright tech classik with its piercing Bollywood detritus, though the harmonic thrash of “Mid Summer Night” might be even better. There are moments early on like “Uoxtu” and “Nagaremasu” that feel astounding for how much nothingness exists between their sonic poles, but by the end, we’re getting track after track like “Ure Pill” and “Waterfall” whose rich beams of color unfold dimensional caverns against which we can see stuff move to. There’s a real arc in place here, and it doesn’t exactly speak in terms codified by language, but I will say that “Jazz” and “Rock” are both clear moments of climax and structure that rewardingly close sides A and B with absurd panache.
Ez Minzoku stands for “Easy Ethnic,” and it’s not hard to see how the Foodman spirit could be seen as an E-Z distillation of hypercute Japanese customs taken to an atomic, head-splicing extreme. From the countryside aneurysm of “Hikari” to the battle-cry drop two minutes into “Yami Nabe,” Ez Minzoku is both microscopic and larger than life, fucking with all kinds of traditional structures, wringing joy and freedom from their overimposing talons. No matter how strikingly precise his meter might be, Higuchi reveals to us even deeper depths beneath the sputtering hi-hats and endlessly chopped loops, a Deep Dream you could sink yourself so far into that eventually you might look around and forget what size you even started out as. It’s dominating in the same way Keith Rankin’s work as Giant Claw is, holding us as clay in its oversized hands to be molded and bent as Higuchi sees fit, but moreso than Rankin, Foodman encourages outward action over inward projection. There’s no reason mental discombobulation can’t lead to a wide-eyed stroll through your neighborhood, why the physical textures of reality can’t be understood and embraced better through violent self-rearrangement; Foodman’s ammo of choice is the innerstream of huge objects and goofy triggers floating around in our noggins, neuron signals that would remind us of a tender simplicity were they not being twisted so shockingly before our very eyes.
But are these sounds really so innocent after all? You don’t exactly refer to yourself as “Foodman” without a deep awareness of the impressionary capabilities of items and feelings we learned about before we could even walk. Higuchi hardballs a startling amount of gnomey trumpet squawks right in the first three songs, and throughout “Jazz,” we are subjected to numerous mutations of the sound of a man groaning and/or screaming, much in the same manner one might after chasing the Roadrunner over a cliff and then making the mistake of looking down. But even despite all the allusions to a more frightening reality throughout Ez Minzoku, Higuchi would never leave us drowning in the tar pit. There’s too much sick fun to be had from watching the tiny creatures go to battle with one another, too many potential offspring to be had from smashing the blocs against each other enough times. You can run all you want from the truckloads of porn being made of your favorite childhood cartoons, but the paper trail is just going to lead to another lonely soul sitting in front of their laptop screen, thirsty for connection. In this way, Foodman isn’t as much a fetishist of our own facile, pastel-colored childhoods, but a bracing scholar of those tensions, welding the gummy pieces together in all their horrible preciousness so that we might truly see how easy it is to choke on them.
But hey, a gagging sound would probably make for a dope sample too right? Above all, Ez Minzoku is a how-to manual for finally fitting that square peg in the round hole, 13 choreographed exercises that wobble not just because of the kooky soundbites stringing them from head to toe, but because of Foodman’s singular taste for maddening rhythmic genesis. The frantic, life-or-death push that defines footwork is here; it’s just been pulled latex-glove-style over a more colorful collection of forms and systems, daring the listener to scatter their limbs and brains so that they might reach a new ecstasy of death defiance and interwoven metaphysical beauty. Higuchi is the ambassador, the translator, the star athlete of whatever dimension he’s juicing in from, collecting some test samples for the road before blasting back off into the nexus, leaving us to build toy soldiers and sand castles from the rubble of our collective mind collage.