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Kikagaku Moyo

Kumoyo Island

Tokyo band Kikagaku Moyo started out busking on the streets of Tokyo a decade ago and have since toured the world multiple times over, scoring legions of fans along the way with their unique blend of psych rock and world music (think Ravi Shankar meets the Beach Boys meets 13th Floor Elevators). The band has had a good run, but like all good things their time together is coming to an end, having announced they’ll be breaking up after their forthcoming tour.

With Kumoyo Island, their fifth and final album, they go out with an emphatic bang. The pinnacle of Kukagaku Moyo’s discography, the album shows a band that’s put in plenty of hard miles and well-earned the right to rest on its laurels, but one that also chooses instead to call on its experience to create one of this year’s finest alternative rock records.

While Kumoyo Island doesn’t mark any drastic departures from the group’s familiar, freewheeling style — vocals and instruments alike warped by effects pedals, given extra heft by a good helping of reverb, and given a sense of narrative momentum with lots of interlocking rhythms and melodies — but there’s a significant amount of growth toward more sensational takes on what has long been one of the best bands working in Japan today. It’s also their most fun record yet — a much more dancey and upbeat affair than a lot of their previous efforts.

Listening through Kumoyo Island, it becomes apparent that the band have reached their zenith: a thrilling, dynamic masterpiece full of eccentric perfection and hallucinatory moments. Every song has some sort of new oddity or perspective to bring to the mix, an unearthly flourish that just begs for you to press repeat and listen again and again.

If this is the final bow for Kikagaku Moyo, then there’s no other way for them to go out—they sure did leave us with one heck of a show.

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Cover art for Kikagaku Moyo album Kumoyo Island.