By Mat Wilkins
VANCOUVER – Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for “geometric patterns”) goes above and beyond the typical trappings of the everyday psych outfit. They are a group with a penchant for sonic assembly, carefully constructing ethereal soundscapes and melodious riffs alike— that are expertly bound together with the glue of their own unmistakable style. According to drummer and vocalist Go Kurosawa, this band’s distinctive sound is a result of more than just a smattering of band practices.
“Yui Kimijima has recorded all of our studio albums so far… He’s not afraid to experiment or try a different approach, which we like,” says Kurosawa.
Stone Garden is the most recent testament to Kimijima’s behind-the-scenes tinkering; the five-song EP is a whirlwind of aural sensation, taking listeners on a journey through abrasive distortion, on to toe-tapping vocal melodies, and then back again. Other recent albums — House in the Tall Grass or Forest of Lost Children — contain diverse collections of infectious tunes, complete with fuzzed-out guitar and sitar leads, drawn-out, meandering instrumentals, and creative vocal harmonies (drenched in reverb, of course). Sonic evidence of the band’s relationship with Kimijima is palpable not only on Stone Garden, but right through to the beginning of their entire seven-album discography.
“It’s kind of miraculous how we got together. It’s amazing how we can sustain the same energy we had when we started the band after five years of playing together,” mentions Kurosawa.
Having began as a two-piece between Kurosawa and vocalist/guitarist Tomo Katsurada, Kikagaku Moyo began picking up additional members almost by coincidence. First came Daoud Popal on the guitar, who Katsurada met when out for a smoke at his university. Then came bass player Kotsu Guy, who was found on the street recording vending machine noises for a drone project. Finally, after returning from sitar training in India Kurosawa’s brother Ryu joined.
With some members now living in Europe, the band’s writing process has become a result of “[sharing] musical ideas [while Go Kurosawa] comes up with the song structure.” Despite distance’s traditional role as band-killer, Kurosawa shows little if any concern over their new creative workaround to living abroad. Though, as a band that likes to “play N64 or take naps” when they’re not rehearsing or performing together, we shouldn’t expect them to be terribly prone to many of life’s classic stressors.
Kikagaku Moyo performs at the Fox Cabaret (Vancouver) on February 26.Fox Cabaret, Kikagaku Moyo