Posts Tagged ‘Kikagaku Moyo’

RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Kikagaku Moyo

On their latest album for GuruGuru Brain, Kikagaku Moyo have dug deeper into their psychedelic soul than ever before. The album, produced with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, still weaves their appreciation for psych-folk, spiritual ambience, sitar breakdowns and deluges of guitar, but adds a newfound spaciousness and attention to groove that pushes Masana Temples to the top of their catalog. The band’s last album was awash in pastoral hues, and while it often lit the match on psychedelic burdowns, the remainder of the album rooted itself in a crisp coolness. The aptly titled House in the Long Grass evoked the lush countryside and the solace of verdant spaces. While some of that aspect still remains on their proper follow up, there’s an indelible sense of the city and humanity’s hum present in the mix this time.

Perhaps part of this arises from the band members putting space between themselves, thus necessitating entry to the clockwork coercion of city environs. The mournful lilt of “Orange Peel” and the lonesome slink “Nazo Nazo” capture a sense of traveling – echoing loneliness among a hive of constant activity. As the members work their ways back towards one another the modern world inevitably creeps up to try to reclaim them. The band, however, slips through with the steadied pace of cosmic travelers straight out of a Jodorowsky vision. They seem to radiate a utopian bubble of classic ’70s psychedelia that wards off the technological tangle all around us. The record bends creative restlessness into an organic set of songs that breathe with tension, elation, and as usual, ferocious catharsis. When they flick the flint to flame on “Nana” and “Gatherings” its with purpose, burning down the modern marvels to reveal the old temples beneath.

Perndas, it appears, shares their interest in lending immediacy to a recording, with the band working in one or two takes, even if it means the song isn’t note perfect. Not that Kikagaku Moyo are sloppy, but the imperfections lend even more weathering to their vintage air, conjuring up communal psych communities more attuned to the trip than concerned with the token of a pristine recording. Kikagaku Moyo perked many ears with Forest of Lost Children, positioned themselves at the top of Tokyo’s psychedelic circuit with House in the Long Grass and now they cinch their pedigree with Masana Temples. If somehow you’ve missed out on the band up ’til now, this is the perfect moment to come on board.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Nazo Nazo”

2018 is a banner year for new music, but I’d be hard pressed to say there are many releases that I’m as excited for as the upcoming LP from Kikagaku Moyo. The Tokyo band stunned with 2016’s House In The Tall Grass, and while their EP last year was a nice as tide-over seat filler, its looser experimental nature didn’t sate as a proper follow-up. Masana Temples arrives early next month to sooth fans longing for another long player from these guys, and it delivers absolutely. Let the latest single from the album, and its accompanying surrealist video prove the case.

“Nazo Nazo” hangs in the ether with a lycergic calm. The guitars drop like Mercury from above. They pool in the brain and waft a psychedelic chill down the spine. Its the band at their best and exemplifies the album’s detached cool. If this one isn’t already on your October pickup list, then this should change your mind.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Gatherings”

Some days just come blessed, like ones that deliver new material from Japanese psych masers Kikagaku Moyo. Their stop-gap EP from last year was enough to ebb the hunger for new material from this crew, but still fell short of the full album satisfaction they’re able to deliver. The first cut from the upcoming Masana Temples sounds right on track to expand consciousness and lift listeners on the strength of the band’s shimmering vibes and hothouse sweat. The group shacked up with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas for production on this album, taking in the veteran’s altered perspective and applying it to their towering yet tender psychedelic tendencies. “Gatherings” runs the radar between glycerin guitars that trickle down in shimmering coils to a heavy prog singe that lays down third degree psychic burns via guitar pyrotechnics. It’s a damn fine introduction to the album that pushes the excitement for a new stunner to full tilt.




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Kikagaku Moyo

It’s hard to suppress a smile with the news Kikagaku Moyo is back for another round on the speakers so soon after their lush masterpiece House In The Tall Grass landed last year. The previous album has hardly left the turntable around here and while the stopgap EP, Stone Garden, is a leap away from the pastoral tranquility that rounded out House, it serves as a call back to their more improvisational beginnings. The EP was carved out of freeform sessions in Prague, finding their way home to refined versions back in Tokyo. The first shot out of the gate rattles the listener out of the comfortable cocoon Kikagaku Moyo left us in. It’s a fuzz riddled stalk through the night with an air of danger dialed in.

Tonally they don’t embrace the menace, though, as they return to buzzing drones and winding sitars by the time the second track “Nobakitani rolls around. Each of the five tracks shows off a side of the band’s psychedelic fortitude – from instrumental fry to languid pools of acoustic shimmer and driving psych buckshot. Naturally, this is not as complete a statement as House In The Tall Grass, but it’s brevity is no discount to the band’s ability to wield tumultuous rhythm and crystalline serenity in equal measure. This isn’t the band’s next great leap, but it’s a pretty nice piece of their overall puzzle.




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Kikagaku Moyo – “In A Coil”

Coming off tremendous acclaim for their pastoral psych masterpiece House In The Tall Grass Kikagaku Moyo don’t rest easy on recreating that album’s languid vibes. Instead they holed up in Prague and went deep into their improvisational side, as embraced on their earlier records. The first offering from the EP anchors their effusive psych cloud to a motorik pulse, hammering home the rhythm as a nice offset to the squelch of guitars and lilting sitar melody. It’s comforting to know that at their heart Kikagaku Moyo are looking to find the nerve of psychedelia, song based or not, and they’re leading you on their trip. They’re not looking for any nods of approval, just getting back to the nuts and bolts of lifting consciousness.




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RSTB Best of 2016 (so far)

Ok, so deep down I know that the half-year best-of rundown is becoming an expected bit of mid-year clickbait listicle self-love. It’s a totem that’s somewhat unnecessary, seeing how at the end of the year votes get tallied and the same releases get pondered. But since I also have the nagging gnaw that a culture of collective consciousness music press will result in plenty of homogeneous diatribes about what’s been considered the cream of ’16, I figure that it’s worth it to shine some light on a few deserving entities that are gonna to be left out of the party.

Some outlets have gone so far as to tell the world that 2016 has been super stressful for them, what with all the surprise albums needing their immediate attention. Sleepless nights in the review mines, I’m sure. Caffeinated burns through the wee hours that are called upon because absorption of albums over time is heresy these days. No time to listen deep because those other sites are stealin’ your views, siphoning clicks, and by next week those cuts will be far too stale to talk about anyhow. RSTB’s always there to let you know that sometimes its OK to let an album fester under your skin a while. Review it late, review it early, but maybe listen long enough to learn how it impacts you—or at least how it sounds in the car vs. the speakers vs. the headphones.

I’m starting to think that sometimes best should be more relative and less quantitative, and maybe it might be fun if there were a few more outlets with a true voice. But, so went the airwaves, so go the reviews, eh? Ah, maybe I’m just old fashioned. Anyhow, here are the picks. Remember RSTB is never content (n.), and never content (adj.).

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Kikagaku Moyo

I’ve had this one on rotation ever since it arrived and, even as a big fan of Kikagaku Moyo’s past catalog, its the most entrancing work they’ve done yet. The band’s work to date always found a delicate balance between subtlety and psychedelics, but here they tip the scales much further towards pastoral than ever before and the delicate touches pool their sound with a gorgeous coat of sheen. “Kogarashi,” the first taste of the album that slipped away early this year, still remains a highlight, winding fluid, traveling guitar passages with the lush cool air of cave echoed vocals. The band still pushes the amps into the fire now and again, but in the mold of some of the best simmering psychedlics, the moments that they hold back glow a bit brighter than the rest.

House In The Tall Grass shows the band’s familiarity with the softer side of the ’60s, and while there are notable touches of Japanese luminaries The Apryl Fool, Jacks and even later greats like Ghost, the band has called on a less obvious touchstone for inspiration, Bruce Langhorne’s soundtrack to The Hired Hand. If you’re not familiar, the reissue on Scissor Tail is a must for fans of country psych and acoustic guitar, not to mention psychedelic ’70s soundtracks. And though its more in line with Fahey, its not a stretch to see that its gentle ramble has a thumbprint here. The whole album has a subtle grey fog around it. Its got a cold and damp quality that echoes that lonesome traveling feeling.

Though don’t let that assessment fool you, the dampness and loneliness is by no means a deterrent, they are a celebration of sweet melancholy and Kikagaku Moyo is nailing the emotion on this album. The gorgeous folds of of House In The Tall Grass hang heavy and when the album does light those fires, they burn all that much brighter in contrast, then they’re all swept out in the morning by the gentle hum of closer, “Cardigan Song.” Its one of the best I’ve heard this year for sure and getting better with each listen.



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Kikagaku Moyo – “Silver Owl”

Second single from Kikagaku Moyo’s House In the Tall Grasses dips in with the same pastoral psych that led off on “Kogarashi” but as the band nears the culmination of the ten minute span they dive into a tempest of psychedelic fray and flay that shows the other side of thier temper. So far the cool puddles of cave psych that drip from this release are stacking up to be their best yet of a solid run of albums over the past few years. 2016 is shaping up to be a fine year for psychedelic stomp and smolder and nearing the top of that list there’s a spot knocked out for Kikagaku Moyo for sure.



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