Two years ago, I saw Japanese psych-rock band Kikagaku Moyo in a half full pub in Dalston where they were touring their 2016 album ‘House in the Tall Grass’. They performed a pretty great show. This time around they really outdid themselves, playing an even better show at a sold-out Scala.
With an album out earlier this year, Kikagaku Moyo embarked on the biggest tour yet, with London their second date on the European leg of the tour. They had improved their performance ten-fold since I last saw them in Dalston, revelling in the energy from the much bigger crowd, and the larger venue a much better fit for their impressive musical growth. The band looked a lot more comfortable on stage, suggesting a new confidence has given them the foundation for audacious experimentation, with the addition of more improvisation and the inclusion of acoustic songs. Their improvisation, reminiscent of krautrock and artists such as Can with the ‘motorik beat’ and stuttering guitars, was somewhat new compared to their previous show, showcasing elements in their live performance I hadn’t seen before.
It was brilliant to have seen this band grow in appeal to a much wider audience and be welcomed by so many more people. I actually caught them about five years ago on what must have been their first tour outside of Japan in a small bar in Brighton with maybe thirty or forty people. To go from that to a sold-out show at Scala is incredible and I am delighted they have made it this far.
Kikagaku Moyo blend Indian classical music, folk, and psychedelia superbly, and you can hear all influences across their diverse sound. They are a refreshing band in the modern psychedelic scene and stick out with their unique combination of influences. Their attention to detail is incredible which really comes to life in their songcraft. They build songs from 0 to 10 without distraction taking you on a sonic journey from folk elements and softly sung verses, to fuzz driven breaks and heavy breakdowns. The song grows and increases in energy until a big release, with the full band jamming out.
The band, just departing on their European tour, were a delight to see again and I really wish them the very best in their future endeavours, as they deserve it. Their album ‘Masana Temples’ came out a short while ago and should be listened to, along with their back catalogue. Each album tells a different story and contrasts from the last greatly, giving a different flavour of what Kikagaku Moyo is capable of.