Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Forest Of Lost Children’ (2014)
The latest flame to shine brightly on the Japanese psychedelic scene is this two-year old quintet, whose limited-edition, multimedia (cassette, LP, CD, digital download), hard-to-find releases (their debut came out on a small Greek label!) are worth seeking out to experience a healthy dose of mind-altering organic musical substances. All three are being reissued (read our in-depth interview for more details), but you’ll have to act fast – even some of the pre-orders are already sold out!
For the uninitiated, opener “Semicircle” is illustrative of the improvisational, laidback approach of drummer Kurasawa Go, his sitar-wielding brother Ryu, guitarists Katsurada Tomo and Popal Daoud, and bassist Kotsuguy. It starts hesitatingly, as if the members aren’t sure where the song is going, then gradually finds a sleepy-eyed, headnodding rhythm before soaring heavenward on the floating breezes of patchouli. The band’s name translates as “Geometric Patterns”, which Go told us represented the behind-closed-eyes images that flittered across his eyelids during one of their many lengthy, late night improvisational jams.
“Kodama” picks up the rhythm with a slightly motorific beat, reminiscent of inspirational krautrock heroes, Guru Guru improvising on the riff from The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”. [To emphasize the influence of their likeminded forebears, the band recently formed their own label to release new psychedelic music from the Asian underground scene. The name? Guruguru Brain, named after both Mani Neumaier’s project and seminal krautrock label, Brain!]
“Smoke and Mirrors” begins with a mellow, dreamy, Neil Young/Crazy Horse vibe before exploding into searing guitar duels, throbbing basslines, and chanting, wordless vocals that are simultaneously funky, good-timey, and just plain fun to hum along with. The title is musically represented by the fast/slow dichotomy that quickens the heart one moment and pours molasses on your synapses the next.
“Streets of Calcutta” may appeal to Hawkwind fans, with its franticly propelled rhythms serpentining around Ryu’s sitar solo; and wait till the air guitarists get a load of the speed metal mayhem of the appropriately named, ahem, “Hem”! “White Moon” brings things back to earth, opening with chirping crickets and a tender acoustic guitar that eventually segues into Eastern-styled guitar and sitar licks reminiscent of kotos wandering into a Morricone spaghetti western soundtrack. Fascinating and essential. Just act fast before they’re all gone!
– Jeff Penczak
Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Forest Of Lost Children’ (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2014)