Psychedelic must be the most abused term used to describe a certain type of rock band, a moniker cavalierly tossed about to bands who match up worse than chocolate and cheese (hey, is Ween a psych band too?). But these cats from Japan? Ok, feel free to tag them as psychedelic. Long hair, beards, vintage clothing – yeah, it’s all part of the look but if you don’t bring the songs it’s just a giant cos-play wankfest so why even bother? Like a band who focuses on expanding boundaries, they don’t let words clog up their main mode of delivery, instead focusing on epic six-stringed journeys, punctuated with occasional keyboard textures and blistering electric sitar via Ryu Kurosawa; check out “Streets Of Calcutta” and get on down to it.
Japan has a rich history of head music, first with mysterious outfits such as Flower Travellin’ Band, Les Rallizes Desnudes, and Speed Glue and Shinki, later spiraling into all sorts of mutations with artists on the PSF (Psychedelic Speed Freaks) label. Kikagaku Moyo (along with Sundays & Cybele) are more than eager to blow air onto the fading embers, and their track record is pretty solid. Their ratio of slow, mellow folk songs to in the red ragers is not tipped as far towards the latter as I’d personally hope, but the two songs where Go Kurasawa stepped from behind the drum kit to perch on a stool and sing two gentle songs that would make Kan Mikami happy were pretty alright. The ragers would come soon enough, with Daoud Popal riding a heavy wah-wah on “Gatherings” that started a mosh pit. The encore of “Smoke and Mirrors” kept those flames stoked and then some, leaving everyone in happy daze.
Sarah Louise was first on stage, with what looked to be an antique ironing board on duty as a keyboard stand, her sparkly pink 12 string Danelectro over her shoulders, and Thom Nguyen playing some intricate percussive patterns. She’s got a couple of records out on Thrill Jockey, and her style of guitar playing makes it no secret that she’s also landed a release in Steve Lowenthal’s excellent VDSQ series, at times echoing gentle ragas or introspective finger picking. A most solid choice to pair for this tour.
Click on below for photos of both bands: