By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The latest standard bearer for otherworldly psychedelia to emerge from Japan, Kikagaku Moyo has built a solid global following in the space of a few short years. The Tokyo band got it’s start when principle songwriter Go Kurosawa (drums/vocals) and Tomo Katsurada (guitar/vocals) founded the band as a loose music collective, busking in the streets as a duo while refining an acoustic psych-folk sound that echoed the influence of German hippy experimentalists Amon Düül and Japanese band Taj Mahal Travellers.
They would add bass player Kotsu Guy and guitarist Daoud Popal, eventually expanding to a five piece when Go’s brother Ryu Kurosawa returned to Japan after studying sitar in India. The band recorded it’s first EP in the space of a day and posted it to their Bandcamp page. Those recordings would attract attention from interested listeners across the globe, including small Greek imprint Cosmic Eye Records who offered to issue a limited run of vinyl.
The band’s has continued to raise it’s profile with a steady stream of recordings that showcased a sound that — like their modern Japanese psych forebears in Ghost — deftly shifted from meditative acoustic grooves to howling, guitar-fueled space rock excursions into orbit. In 2015, the group issued a pair of 7-inch singles with mutual admirers Moon Duo (the noted U.S. drone/psych band that got its start in San Francisco) and Acid Mothers Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto backed by Seattle group Kinski as part of a special series for God Unknown Records that quickly became collectors items.
Touring the world extensively with jaunts to Australia, the United States (they played Desert Daze in Southern California and the Austin Psych Fest in 2014) and Europe in addition to their native Japan, Kikagaku Moyo has established a reputation as a powerhouse performing unit. The group recently issued a follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 effort House in the Tall Grass that came out on Guruguru Brain Records. The new Stone God EP finds the quintet in propulsive, stoner-psych mode, unleashing some of their most transporting music yet.
The band comes to the Independent in San Francisco Sunday night, topping an adventurous and varied psych bill that includes Oakland’s own sunshine psychedelic pop outfit Sugar Candy Mountain and funky local prog-pop songwriter Danny James, who came to notoriety with his spectacular 2015 opus Pear.
Sunday, May 21, 8 p.m. $15