Over the years Japanese psych outfit Kikagaku Moyo went from fringe import for the heads to bumping up to the legible text on psych fests worldwide. Rightfully so, as the band’s mix of folk, searing psychedelics, eastern modalities, and meditative melt peels back layers on the listener each time they offer up an album. Sadly, with the release of Kumoyo Island, the band brings an end to their journey, capping off their careen across the speakers with one of their most expansive and voracious albums yet. Live sets at avenues like Levitation have found the band prove an ability to melt the most ardent defenses with a riff that channels the seismic weight of amplifiers gone feral. House in the Tall Grass tempered the heat and hunger, proving pastoral grounds were just as fertile as those that were stripped dry from the arid howl of their heft. On Kumoyo Island, they push even further afield, touching toes in both the heaviness that’s always haunting them and humid euphoria of Tall Grass, but enveloping dub plate disorientation, jazz bleats, and the hammock sway of Exotica along the way.
It’s an album that’s not hung to hard on trying to give the fans what they want, but doing just that in their own way. At this point, to place expectations on Kikagaku Moyo other than two sides of transformative psychedelics is to try to hold down fog. The band’s sound is euphoric, seismic, elemental — qualities they incorporate full-scale on the new LP. For the recording, the band found themselves returning to old haunts. Uprooted from their recent repository in Amsterdam, back to Tokyo and to Tsubame Studios where some of their earliest material was recorded, this is a homecoming of sorts. It’s a reset before the book closes on their studio works altogether. The return seems to have triggered a renewed playfulness, a confidence of spirit that’s allowed them to let the album wander without getting lost. Kumoyo Island is the sound of a band inviting us into their inner rooms and breathing out the most potent breath.
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