Album Review: House in the Tall Grass by Kikagaku Moyo
Fairly Good, Based on 4 Critics
AllMusic - 70 Based on rating 7/10
Kikagaku Moyo are a Japanese psychedelic rock group whose inclination toward softer, more reflective spaces and acoustic instrumentation puts them closer to the ethereal psych-folk of Ghost than the drug-fried noise rock mayhem of bands like Acid Mothers Temple. Kikagaku Moyo do occasionally build up heavy rhythms, and they seem like they can probably jam all night without a second thought, but on House in the Tall Grass, they restrain themselves a bit. More so than their previous releases, the album is a cinematic journey, with noted influences including Ry Cooder's score for Paris, Texas and Bruce Langhorne's 1971 cult favorite soundtrack to Peter Fonda's 1971 Western The Hired Hand.
The latest in a long line of Japanese psych-rock bands, Kikagaku Moyo began life busking on Tokyo’s streets. Their three albums to date (each released on separate labels) have helped them to build up a cult reputation outside of their homeland. Their sitar-heavy take on the genre incorporates a variety of outside influences, though it’s a penchant for krautrock which yields the best results on this fourth album.
With House In The Tall Grass, forest folk Kikagaku Moyo have returned with that most perverse, oxymoronic, and disappointing of things – a boring psych album. A non-ironic acknowledgement of one’s musical forebears can be a beautiful thing; just look at the idiosyncratic new forms teased from doom-metal’s corpse by the likes of Sunn O))) and Om. The problem comes when artists fail to recognise the elements of their chosen influence that have the potential to catalyse new modes of expression, and take the heritage as gospel.