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Kumoyo Island

09/06/2022Tokyo's Acid Folk/Psychedelic Rock Explorers Kikagaku Moyo Release Epic Fifth And Last Studio Album

Last call...all aboard...final destination "Kumoyo Island"!  Envision yourself seated at a ferry terminal somewhere in Japan, tickets in hand, bags packed, provisions safely stowed inside, waiting for the vessel to embark on an eleven-stop journey to an imaginary island with Tokyo acid folk/psych rock explorers Kikagaku Moyo as your visionary tour guides. Well, best grab a window seat with some leg space, lean back and enjoy the ride. If you've been on one of their previous "kaleidoscopic explorations," then you'll already be familiar with the hallucinogenic depths their opulent journeys are prone to attain. And if not, then prepare to be immersed in a celebratory, "euphoric mind-trip" painted in vivid, cascading colours.

By now, you may have guessed that "Kumoyo Island" is the promising title to the group's fifth and last album, the long-awaited follow-up to their penultimate 2018 full-length "Masana Temples". Earlier this year, on the heels of a pandemic-induced hiatus, Kikagaku Moyo announced that this would indeed be their ultimate album and tour: "We have come to the conclusion that because we have truly achieved our core mission as a band, we would love to end this project on the highest note possible. Since first starting as a music collective on the streets of Tokyo in 2012, we never, ever imagined being able to play all over the world for our amazing audiences. It is all because of you that this was ever possible...and to this we are eternally grateful."

That being said, the journey gets underway to the quirky sounds of "Monaka", an upbeat and grooving ode to a brand of Japanese wafer treats, including diverse percussive elements, taking "melodic inspiration from traditional minyo folk styles" and included in our "Greedio X May '22" playlist. This is followed by a billowing magic carpet ride on "Dancing Blue", landscapes flying by and the arrival of "Effe", an ethereal layover heralded by a chorus of dubby trumpets, eventually giving way to a soaring bird's-eye view of the sea on a Japanese cover of Brazilian singer Erasmo Carlos' "Meu Mar". Entering fuzzier, rockier terrain, the journey ensues on the album's guitar-led lead single "Cardboard Pile", riding various waves and currents to reach the Bay of "Gomugomu", a rainbowesque retreat of sorts. There, "Daydream Soda" is served to refresh our thirsty palates, before heading through a "Field of Tiger Lillies" to reinvigorate the senses, as the stage is set for stargazing and interstellar roller coasting on "Yayoi, Iyayoi", which sees the band "singing in their native tongue, its evocative lyrics utilising archaic words taken from old poetry and nature books." So much activity calls for a quick "Nap Song", as the ship nears its final stop at "Maison Silk Road" on, why yes, Kumoyo Island.

Unable to reach their second home in Amsterdam during the lockdown, the band reconvened at Tsubame Studios in Sakusabashi, Tokyo, where they had recorded some of their earliest material, finding "new inspiration in a familiar and comfortable environment." As such, "Kumoyo Island" marks not just "the culmination of a journey" and a decade-long career for Kikagaku Moyo, but also a homecoming of sorts. The album's pensive last track, still playing in the background, we write these lines with a sense of sadness in our hearts, albeit fully aware that we will be able to revisit the band's versatile, expressive and indubitably mind-bending discography whenever we feel like it. 

You can stream/buy the full release and glimpse a part of Kikagaku Moyo's colourful universe in the animated companion video to "Gomugomu" below. Also, make sure you catch them on tour if you can. 別れ 幾何学模様!

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom