It’s odd how some places picked up the psychedelic baton and some didn’t. After all, ‘tripped out psych from Japan’ seems to slide off the tongue a little easier than Carlisle, or Basildon, or poor old Hull.
And it’s a documented fact, of course, that when psychedelic sounds finally washed up on the shores of Japan the nation’s freaks, rebels, and outcasts turned on and dropped out with furious gusto – just check Julian Cope’s JapRockSampler for further details of their way-out exploits.
All of which makes Kikagaku Moyo a surprisingly natural, if still unexpected, listen. A psych wrecking crew from Japan, their ferocious live reputation has led to a global cult following, prompted by epic jams as lengthy as their hair. ‘House In The Tall Grass’ captures this live energy, while adding a few elements of studio trickery. Sonically, the group flit between a rhythmic skeleton that borrows that kinetic Krautrock groove, glistening guitar lines, and a freaked out sitar sound that could rupture time and space itself.
‘Green Sugar’ is the sound of the sugar-cube dissolving, the delicate guitar effects pirouetting around the rock solid bassline. ‘Old Snow White Sun’ is sheer West Coast fare, on a par with Psychic Ills or Moon Duo, for example. ‘Dune’ is a killer seven inch from an alternate dimension, while closing cut ‘Cardigan Song’ leans towards the acid folk end of the psych spectrum.
Indeed, it’s when Kikagaku Moyo indulge their traditional elements that the band seem most alien, most far out. The skipping Oriental rhythm of ‘Kogarashi’ is met by tumbling harmonies, while ‘Silver Owls’ tapestry of sound could rip at any moment.
There’s a tradition within Japanese visual arts that an illustrator or calligrapher should only use a single line, pursuing the pen until the drawing is complete. ‘House In The Tall Grass’ has a sense of this, with Kikagaku Moyo endlessly chasing their ideas to completion, refusing to submit until the song has been pushed to the furthest reaches. Delicately beautiful, this is a real trip.
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