Guitar, fuzz, and thundering drums steam forward as electricity gathers building the storm that is “Backlash”, the opening track of Stone Garden by Kikagaku Moyo. It’s a force of metal and electrical nature filled with distorted guitar riffs that pull at the strings of your sanity. With the song, the band not only captures your attention, but also an intensity that demands respect.
Stone Garden started in a basement studio in Prague with a nearly continuous session over several days and nights. And it’s easy to see the Czech capital’s metallic presence here. After all, the city is noted for its fierce club scene, one in particular, Cross Club, known for being built out of car parts. However, it is also a city known for its opera, art, castle, and general high-society/art. And much like the city where Stone Garden began, there is a melange of sounds to be found on the record.
As soon as the “Backlash” created storm passes, we are met with a clear day on “Nobakitani”. Dew drops trickle down flower stems, and we turn to look across the psychedelic landscape in front of us. Psychedelia has always been at the heart of Kikagaku Moyo and the band digs deep into its roots. Sounds reminiscent of Quilt’s first record and The Beatles blossom, and a sitar breaks through.
It’s important to remember that Kikagaku Moyo have a ‘classically’ trained sitar player. It will help remind you that there is something weighty behind the storm, which returns in a slightly more spacey way on “Trilobites”. The sounds are equally as infectious as previous tracks, but it’s hear when the album truly begins to grab ahold, the sounds all growing together, and the theme becoming fully present.
Psychedelia often struggles from a lack of connectivity between pieces or even more so from a long form of sound becoming a blob, never doing much to define its space. At just under 32 minutes, Stone Garden doesn’t go on too long, getting lost while meditating on itself, rather it uses it short run time to cut out its space, which is most similar to the path of a hurricane.
There is force and beauty to be found in Kikagaku Moyo’s new record. While the ground does shake at times, and listeners are left with a surreal sound, there is also beauty throughout and at the end. Closer “Floating Leaf” can see the destruction that has been left in the wake of the storm, but it also has a beauty to it, a freshness, and like “Nobakitani” water cascades down in clear air.
Stone Garden is a hurricane of a record, uplifting roofs and roots as it moves methodically forward. Yet there is beauty to be found in the storm, both during and after, and what stands in the wake is truly strong.
For it’s torrential downpour and high wind speed we give Stone Garden by Kikagaku 4 out of 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
HURRY – LISTEN – KIKAGAKU MOYO