Words & Photography by Kieran Webber
Travelling from Cornwall to the big smoke can be a hellish journey, there are often delays (im looking at you Dawlish line) and at least one wino bothering everyone on the train. So, when making the trip you hope that the band you’re going to see puts on an stellar show. To say Kikagaku Moyo did that would be an understatement, their set was a unrelenting flurry of psych that was mesmerising.
The infamous Scala has had an incredible history that dates back to the early 20th Century. In its time it has been a cinema, primatarium, porn cinema and a music venue. During it’s time as a music venue it had the likes of Iggy Pop and Hawkwind graced its stage, so it’s fitting that recently the Japanese psych rockers Kikagaku Moyo called the stage home for a night.
Starting the night off was Faux Real, an experimental art-psych rock outfit that carried one of the most unique sounds and performances that I have witnessed. Dressed like cowboys from a Stanley Kubrick film the two lead singers pranced onto stage. Together they blended interpretive dance with a dash of Mick Jagger. This was accompanied by hard hitting percussion and a rhythm section that was as sturdy as oak. This young band have a long and bright future ahead of them and I have no doubt they will be a frequently mentioned band.
After a quick changeover it was finally time for Kikagaku Moyo to begin their psychedelic crusade, taking the audience on a tour through a variety of influences and sounds. It was mere moments before the first shimmy of chords for ‘Green Sugar’ came bursting out of the amp stacks. The harmonious track was everlasting in its tranquility that saw ethereal vocals take charge, until the closing moments which saw an explosion of solos burst out into the unsuspecting audience. Following this was the sitar driven ‘Kograshi’, one of the more calm tracks that they have crafted.
This moment of peace was soon to be unsettled by the monolith of a track ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, a transcending movement of sounds that triverse and shift throughout the 7+ minutes. Although starting with a certain level of serene it soon becomes overwhelmed with a squall of solos, each chord enchanting you further into their spell.
I have always argued that it is in these moments of explosive energy and inventiveness that they flourish as a band. However, halfway through their set they stripped things down, changed instruments and gave way to their more peaceful, acoustic tracks. Starting off with the stunning ‘Old Snow, White Sun’ drawing the audience to complete silence, they had us all captivated. Next up was the rambling ‘Cardigan Song’, a short but sweet taste of the bands ability to craft beautiful music. This was closed off with ‘Entrance’ an explosion of sitar, creating a serene finish.
It wasn’t long until we were back into the action with their closing track ‘Dripping Sun’, taken from their latest release ‘Masana Temples’. As expected it was a slow building track draped in soft vocals and infectious guitar play, that builds to an explosive end.
As they finished the audience was left wanting more, urging the band to come back on. They obliged the eager crowd and played a three song encore, starting with the tangent filled ‘Gatherings’, followed by ‘Silver Owl’ a slower paced but just as intense number. Finally, they finished with the captivating ‘Streets Of Calcutta’, a track awash in sitar, fast paced percussion and of course lots of solos.
Kikagaku Moyo put their absolute heart and soul into the performance and the audience responded to this, there was a real love between the two parties. It was a dizzying display of musicianship and yet throughout they were incredibly humbled by the admiration they were receiving. It was honestly one of the best live performances I have witnessed and I cannot wait to experience it once more when they make their way to the UK again.