Live Footage: Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo Performs “Smoke and Mirrors” at LEVITATION 2014

Deriving their name from a Japanese phrase that translates into English as “geometric patterns,” Tokyo, Japan-based psych rock act Kikagaku Moyo was formed back in 2012 by its founding members Go Kurosawa (drums vocals) and Tomo Katsurada (guitar, vocals) as a free music collective that experimented with and explored psych rock and space rock while busking around their hometown. Shortly after their formation, Daoud (guitar) joined the band. Daoud met Kotsu Guy (bass), who was recording local vending machines for a noise project. Guy was recruited and was became the band’s fourth official member. Kurosawa’s brother Ryu (sitar) joined the band after returning from Kolkata, where he studied sitar under Manilal Nag.

By the following year, the band had written, recorded and released their self-titled, full-length debut, which caught the attention of  Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, who released the Tokyo-based act’s sophomore album, 2014’s Forest of Lost Children. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the members of Kikagaku Moyo started to tour internationally making appearances across the festival circuit, including Desert Daze and Levitation.

Around then, their self-titled debut was re-issued through Burger Records through cassette tape as a result of high-demand. The band followed up with Mammatus Clouds, which was initially released on cassette tape through Sky Lantern Records and later as a 12 inch LP by Cardinal Fuzz Records in the UK and Captcha Records in the States. The band continued a busy touring schedule with their first UK tour, which included a number of sold-out shows in London.

2015 saw the band touring extensively across Europe with appearances at Eindhoven Psych Lab and Duna Jam. That year also saw the band start Guruguru Brain Records, a label that showcases East Asia’s music scene. Since then the band released 2017’s Stone Garden EP and 2018’s Masana Temples while managing a busy touring schedule. (Last year, I saw the Kikagaku Moyo play a headlining show at Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Warsaw with rising Japanese krautrockers Minami Deutsch.) 

Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society will be launching a brand new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Recorded throughout the festival’s history, the new live album series captures key moments in psych rock and for live music in its hometown of Austin, TX — and features key artists of the psych rock scene.

The live series’ first album features Kikagaku Moyo. Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION showcases two different Levitation Festival sets: a 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the band’s first Stateside shows on the A-Side — and their return to Levitation in 2019, during the middle of a sold-out Stateside tour. “Playing Austin Psych Fest / Levitation was always a goal from our earliest days of the band — to join the psychedelic community for a weekend of music and present our live performance,” the members of Kikagaku Moyo explain. “This show in 2014 was a landmark for us. To return years later in 2019 and find the same welcome, the dream was still very much alive and well.”

The live album’s first single “Smoke and Mirrors” was recorded from the Tokyo-based psych rock act’s 2014 Levitation debut. Centered around an expansive, mind-bending, shape shifting arrangement featuring shimmering and droning sitar, a sinuous and supple bass line, dreamy vocals and some expressive guitar work, “Smoke and Mirrors” sounds as though it could have been released in 1968 or so — but with a loose and furious live performance.

Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a January 15, 2020 release.