Rhythmic and diverse, Masana Temples by Kikagaku Moyo blends psychedelia and pop to paint the land and sky under an arcing son. Japanese precision meets Western pop sensibilities across the Tokyo-based quintet’s fourth full studio album. It’s a work that could easily be defined as jammy, but, here, it is not directionless. It moves from east to west, revealing the joy of intertwining cultures.
Last year, Kikagaku Moyo delivered the stellar Stone Garden EP. On it, dark skies and thunderous clouds crashed with bursts of color opening up only for eye of the storm-type moments, creating an album that what was emblematic of a hurricane. That record left a land broken, dirty, and disheveled, but ready to start anew. On Masana Temples, listeners get their first peek into the world that has grown lush in the wake of the receded tides.
Jam probably serves best a metaphor for Masana Temples. There are long guitars riffs and times when it seems like the music will just continue, but it doesn’t, each moment exists for a reason, often to shed light on intricacies unique to singular cultures or pieces of time. Rather, it’s the thick and gooey boiled fruit and sugar that more aptly describes the record. Every bit of it is filled with bursts of vibrant tasty color.
Fittingly, Masana Temples opens with ‘Entrance’. Filled with spellbinding riffs and Beatles-reminiscent psychedelia, it’s a bright and colorful track that serves to shed light on the Land of the Rising Sun. The guitar work is precise and decidedly Eastern, drums begin to bubble up, they are hollow and provide balance. It fades in echoes and ‘Dripping Sun’ pushes through with a bass line possessing all the cool of a 70s cop show.
‘Dripping Sun’ is the most ambitious track on the record. An unabashedly cool guitar riff enters, then drums reminiscent of early My Morning Jacket float in, followed by the sounds of a plane readying itself to takeoff. A twinkling keyboard enters and everything coalesces, before peeling back to a repeating wooden block drum and our first introduction to vocals. They are soft and lend themselves easily into the 70s light up dancefloor along a calm coast-type sound that the track enters into next. The song’s final phase features a head banging guitar riff and crashing cymbals, and is all decidedly 70s-esque rock ‘n’ roll. The song is a thesis and serves as an outline for what will happen over the course of the rest of the album.
Masana Temples standout track falls eighth, ‘Amayadori’. It is the beginning of the sun’s descent. The sounds of a gentle, but heavy rain are cut by a ringing acoustic guitar. Then enter bounding classical strings, followed by a lovely and light keyboard melody. Birds begin to chirp about, and light can be seen creeping through the clouds. It’s one minute and thirty six seconds of pure bliss.
The album ends with ‘Blanket Song.’ The decidedly American West-influenced track feels of green mountain pines and railway tracks. There is a light harmony that at times almost seems like its whistling as the train chugs along. There are no drums, the strings create melody and rhythm.
Masana Temples feels timeless. The record’s influences are wide and ranging and it manages to blend them seamlessly while also shedding light on small moments. It’s those intimate and intricate moments that make Masana Temples more than just a psychedelic blend of rock and pop. It interweaves cultures, letting them each stand alone at times and blend together during others. Here, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and we’re left with the simple beauty of witnessing the light move.
HURRY – BUY – KIKIAGAKU MOYO MUSIC