With sultry sitars, shimmering guitar effects and cryptic vocals, Kikagaku Moyo’s ‘House In The Tall Grass’ seethes with all the style and swagger of a sixties psychedelic extravaganza. This latest installment from the Tokyo-based jam-band continues their spiritual odyssey through sound and symmetry.
Perhaps more so than previous albums, ‘House In The Tall Grass’ especially seems to acknowledge the era that the band so liberally take influence from. As the album progresses, we see flashes of bona fide folk influences, together with the smoulder and sophistication reminiscent of bands like Jefferson Airplane. Despite this obvious retrospection, the band still manages to retain an artistic signature, working their own brand of ritualistic post-rock style into the already eclectic mix.
‘Green Sugar’ acts as the powerful opening statement, with a cacophonous clash of searing tremolo guitar chords, rippling crash cymbals and a pendulum bass line, see-sawing from high to low. It’s easy to detect this band’s origins as an experienced live act – the boldness of the introduction carries all the energy and gravitas of a live opener. After receding to soft wavering guitar arpeggios, the cryptic disembodied vocals of singer Tomo Kastsurada enter the mix, with shimmering sitar work that wouldn’t seem out of place on The Beatles ‘Rubber Soul’.
With pieces like ‘Kogarashi’ and ‘Old Snow White Sun’ we see the band draw upon their folk influences, the layered vocals and sparse guitar parts of ‘Kogarashi’ similar to Fleet Foxes ‘Myokonos’. In particular, ‘Old Snow White Sun’ with it’s luscious suspended guitar chords, loaded with reverb, invoke the same folk-rock feel of tracks from Led Zeppelin’s third album. Numerous psychedelic acts from the sixties crossed over from genres like Folk Rock, so to see Kikagaku Moyo indulging the folkier side of their sound is not at all surprising.
Later tracks like ‘Dune’ showcase the band’s tight coordination over rhythmic changes, and the subdued lead guitar together with the slick, repeated bass line have a similarly, suave vibe to tracks like Jefferson Airplanes’ ‘White Rabbit’ or The Zombies ‘She’s Not There’.
‘Melted Crystals’ breaks up the album nicely, the hypnotic repetition of interlocking guitar melodies creating a meditative, almost spiritual experience. The piece is a strong allusion to the band’s creative objective, mirroring the geometry and capturing the silence and stillness of the Japanese rural landscape.
The centre piece or ‘main course’ of the album, is ‘Silver Owl’. By far the longest track on the whole record, ‘Silver Owl’ takes the listener on a journey, beginning with small atmospheric guitar fills – a little like – Explosions In The Sky – before steadily building up to a juicy, mammoth guitar riff, with all the mightiness of Hendrick’s classic guitar line in ‘Manic Depression’.
‘House In The Tall Grass’ is out on the 13th May 2016, via Guruguru Brain.
This Kikagaku Moyo article was written by Jake Uchiki-Parker, a GIGsoup contributor