The first song on this record is the almost eight minute Green Sugar ,which starts with noodling noise, everyone strumming away as the drums tap, and then it all settles down into an inexorable groove. The bass plays a loping riff that repeats as the drums tap and a guitar tremolos along. It reminds me a lot of the first Fujiya & Miyagi record. Eventually a few faint voices come in, echoed, distant, underneath the layer of tremoloed guitar.
The overall effect takes in krautrock and late 1960s psychedelia at the same time, like Neu covering The Fifth Dimension or something like that. It's an interesting mix that seems very retro and trippy and still kind of fresh at the same time.
Kikagaku Moyo are a space rock band from Japan, so Neu meets The Fifth Dimension seems perfectly logical in this context. Other obvious reference points include Landing, Yume Bitsu, The Verve, and a little Füxa maybe. House in the Tall Grass is about fifty minutes worth of music spread over nine songs that vary between dark and krautrockish to trippy folkish. Pass the bong, dude-san!
The second song on the record is called Kogarashi and it's a toe-tappingly happy song with light singing in Japanese. It is a calm song, like an old Zombies tune. Old Snow, White Sun sounds even more retro with an acoustic guitar doing a kind of chugging thing that i associate with old folk pop. Kikagaku Moyo combine that folk guitar with some lovely strings and a voice echoed and ethereal. It's a pretty song, and it kind of reminds me of Damon and Naomi.
Melted Crystal tinkles along slowly, folk-rockishly. Dune is only two minutes long but has a really great bass riff, and i am left wondering what the heck the bassist was doing during the previous two folk-rock tunes? This sounds like it was recorded in mono and is deeply funky, that bass driving it along. Awesome.
Silver Owl is kind of poppy, with a sitar over a soft guitar riff. It's a ten minute song though, and after four minutes the band begins riffing like crazy, just like the start of the record, then it slows back down to something like an early Verve tune, lethargic, slightly distorted, and echoed. But then they stomp on the overdrive pedals again and channel their inner Black Sabbath. It's a heck of a song.
Kikagaku Moyo relax for the next track, the minute and a half airy interlude Fata Morgana. It's over quickly and we are back to some bluesy riffing that hits classic rock levels on Trad. Huh. I guess they are saying this is a traditional rock tune. The guitar really grinds, but the verses are like the slower moments of Led Zeppelin II, only with a very faint voice. It has that pastoral, early 1970s kind of feel to it.
And then finally the record ends with Cardigan Song. This is really pretty. It is just guitar with faint hushed voice, the guitar tinkling while the voice sings lightly. And again, i am reminded of Damon and Naomi's solo work.
Overall, this is an interesting record. However, the whole record, in fact their entire "shtick" is steeped in a sort of retro-ness. And, much like the wistfulness of Boards of Canada, the music here is stepped in a longing for a simpler time, before the Internet and trolling and, well, dubstep. They do it well, but i know that some listeners are not interested in living in or listening to the past. Just so you know.
But i find that Kikagaku Moyo are doing some interesting things, and they do them very well.