San Diego has always had a soft spot for Japanese psychedelic rock, with spacefaring Asian bands like Acid Mothers Temple drawing some of their biggest U.S. crowds at local venues. Yod knows we have plenty of area acts whose platters could easily be passed off as genuine Japanese psych (Earthless, High Mountain Tempel, Harsh Toke, and a growing paisley subculture in Vista). With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Kikagaku Moyo has worked their way up the local psychedelicene from Til-Two in 2016 to Space the following year, and now they’ll be headlining the Soda Bar on March 5.
The group, which began as a street busking duo on the streets of Tokyo before evolving into its current five-piece incarnation, recently released their fourth full-length, Masana Temples, a collaboration with jazz performer and producer Bruno Pernadas. Unlike the electronically whispery approach of earlier albums, this time their freak-folk sound is brought sharply into the foreground, reminiscent at times of alt-pagan oldies like Comus or Gong dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
It’s a bit like angry forest elves wailing away on ancient wooden instruments plugged into giant Marshall stacks, furiously churning out one more number before either falling down an LSD rabbit hole or setting their instruments afire and burning down the forest. Whereas Kikagaku Moyo’s earlier work could be ponderous and somewhat soporific, the new album seems ideally suited for the kind of live electric exploration and improvisation promised for this tour.