[Album] Kikagaku Moyo – House in the Tall Grass (2016.05.13/MP3/RAR)

Kikagaku Moyo are a Japanese psychedelic rock group whose inclination toward softer, more reflective spaces and acoustic instrumentation puts them closer to the ethereal psych-folk of Ghost than the drug-fried noise rock mayhem of bands like Acid Mothers Temple. Kikagaku Moyo do occasionally build up heavy rhythms, and they seem like they can probably jam all night without a second thought, but on House in the Tall Grass, they restrain themselves a bit. More so than their previous releases, the album is a cinematic journey, with noted influences including Ry Cooder’s score for Paris, Texas and Bruce Langhorne’s 1971 cult favorite soundtrack to Peter Fonda’s 1971 Western The Hired Hand. The album has a similarly wide-open feel, with the group often employing a forest-sized aura of reverb. The group’s notable usage of sitar sounds earthy and mystical rather than trippy. A few of the songs clock in at eight or ten minutes, but instead of being meandering freakouts, these are actually the most focused numbers on the album. Opener “Green Sugar” rides a slimmed-down Krautrock groove and features chiming tremolo guitars, distant glockenspiels and playful percussion, and a slightly Zappa-esque melody. The song bobs along pleasantly for a while before building up to a heavy (but not crushing) finale. “Silver Owl” spends its first two thirds calmly drifting and building anticipation before hitting the distortion pedals, gloriously rewarding the listener’s patience and curiosity. “Trad” is a cosmic folk-prog epic that is almost certainly an homage to Swedish legends Träd, Gräs och Stenar. Curiously, some of the album’s shorter pieces seem far less considered, possibly even underdeveloped. Soft, snoozy “Melted Crystal” spends five minutes going nowhere in particular, and while “Dune” is one of the album’s more upbeat tracks, its distant drum rhythm sounds too flat, and the two-minute track simply seems like an unfinished idea. However, other tracks on the album benefit from sparseness, such as the lovely acoustic closing track “Cardigan Song,” which brings to mind Songs of Green Pheasant. The album isn’t perfect, but at their best, Kikagaku Moyo excel at their unique, thrilling brand of psychedelic acid folk.

1. Green Sugar
2. Kogarashi
3. Old Snow, White Sun
4. Melted Crystal
5. Dune
6. Silver Owl
7. Fata Morgana
8. Trad
9. Cardigan Song

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