Kikagaku Moyo: Kumoyo Island [Album Review]

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Kikagaku Moyo
Kumoyo Island
Guruguru Brain [2022]

The Fire Note headphone approved

It is always better to go out on your own terms. So many times, things can implode and just leave a very unsatisfying “what if” scenario. How did your favorite musical artist call time on a career? Did a band member pass away? Did they break up? You just never know when things will come to an end and there are plenty of examples of final records that I am sure if the artist had known it was their last, they would have done things a bit differently. Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo was not waiting for that “moment” and have seized control of their 10 year career with the announcement that after the release of this fifth record and a tour, the group will go on indefinite hiatus. That kind of news definitely hurts but Kumoyo Island is the perfect parting gift for any fan that has been along for their fantastic psych ride. The new album rivals the excellence found on their last outing (and one of their best), Masana Temples (2018), as it represents a maturation that will cement them as a top tier artist of the psych genre for years to come.

“Monaka” is a fantastic beginning as its name is taken from a type of Japanese wafer sweets. It was inspired from traditional minyofolk styles but the complex bass groove that it weaves, hush vocals and swirling sitar will have your ear hanging onto every transition. “Dancing Blue” is a light boogie jam that has some handclaps in the layered background that keep your feet tapping while a more chant type vocal is your guide. Once again, the sitar rises to the front near the end of the track as it drives the funky dance for a bit. Kikagaku Moyo maintain complete control throughout the album as they hit some other genres within their songs, like the more raging noise rock in the front part of “Cardboard Pile” before it settles down into a psych mind melt conclusion. The short “Field Of Tiger Lilies,” (which clocks in at 1:19) plays out more like an interlude except it has a stand out guitar which pops and is a solid setup for album highlight, “Yayoi, Iyayoi.” At almost 7 minutes, it is the longest track on the record but contains Kumoyo Island’s most memorable power riff that has some thundering drum support.

It is sad to see Kikagaku Moyo come to an end but it will be important to follow its members into other projects as their talent is on full display here. Kumoyo Island is a timeless piece of art that showcases their ability to switch styles and tempos seamlessly. This album is a true culmination of all their work and its fitting that the last song we hear from Kikagaku Moyo is “Maison Silk Road.” Its an over 6 minute ambient drift off piece that plays like you are almost waving goodbye. It fits in with their earliest work from their self-titled debut in 2013 and feels like the other bookend for the band in 2022. Thanks for the psych journey Kikagaku Moyo – you have left everything on the musical stage with a catalog that fans will be listening to years from now!

“Monaka” / “Dancing Blue” / “Yayoi, Iyayoi”

Sundays & Cybele / Acid Mothers Temple / Yonatan Gat

Live At Levitation (2021)

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Christopher Anthony

Fire Track: Monophonics – “Love You Better”

Fire Track: Murder By Death – “Never Be”


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