28 CD Review Kikagku Moyo 1

The sounds of a sitar open Masana Temples, the latest record by Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo, with a spot of Indian music that unfurls before listeners like a lavish carpet. This introduction leads us to “Dripping Sun,” a nearly eight-minute jam spotted with bubbling bass, organs, and wah-wah pedals, offering flashbacks and adding Japanese lyrics to the headier musical excursions of 1960s London and San Francisco. The disparate influences continue throughout the album, as songs like “Fluffy Kosmisch” and “Nana” recall the French-influenced retro-futurism of Stereolab, while the lilting ballad “Orange Peel” offers an understated Brazilian feel. The globalized results of the record reflect the band’s personal travels. The members recently uprooted themselves from Tokyo; some moved throughout Japan, and others settled in Amsterdam, before they reconvened in Lisbon to record Masana Temples with noted jazz musician Bruno Pernadas. On production duties, Pernadas helped the band realize a rich, finely balanced sonic mix, providing Go Kurosawa’s drumming and Tomo Katsurada’s myriad guitar sounds with wide pastures in which to roam. While a healthy portion of the album is given over to agreeable mid-tempo grooves and sunny melodies, the band also makes sharp turns, speeding up the rhythm and going full Technicolor freakout, as on the back half of “Gatherings.” The time the musicians spent apart is not evident anywhere — this is a band that is airtight, focused, and realizing their vast potential.