For me, Japanese psychedelia is one of those genres where my taste is, admittedly, a little undiscerning- if it’s competent I’ll love it, if it’s in the top 10% of the genre, I’ll abuse the shit out of it. Time will tell whether Kikagaku Moyo’s Mammatus Clouds is in that play-all-the-time, annoy-the-absolute-shit-out-my-wife echelon taken up by LSD March, Galax, Fushitsusha etc., but certainly: it is an extremely good release. Seeing as all three tracks are really quite different – I would be curious as to whether this was recorded at a few different live shows or something, as it’s rather all over the shop so I’m going for a track by track review. The worst review format! My apologies in advance.
Things open with the sublime Pond. I’m quite a big fan of the sitar in this, which isn’t a sentence I’m used to uttering very often, but damn if it doesn’t work incredibly well and establish an incredible mood.
It locks in really well with the droning guitar humming away in the background, this wonderful layer of always there sound that will get your eyes rolling into the back of your head. It’s ably accompanied by some delicate guitar, like the occasional whitecap rolling off a wind tossed wave, with the drums tastefully tomming away in the background. There is a climax – it takes about 18 minutes for it really start happening, and I absolutely love the way the drone is maintained while the guitars and drums pound their way to heaven. It’s a beautiful track, although I doubt I’m the only one who was hoping for a 30 minute climax!
Never Know sounds a hell of a lot like a Natural Snow Buildings track, what with all the ever building tape hiss/white noise/fun oscillator times, and the way that there’s a lot of instruments improvising a lot of different things whilst maintaining the drone. Guitars doing a few thousand little bends, playing simple lines, some sort of dulcimer (*I think*!!) providing this ever shimmering background hum, the sound of a few million harps freely strumming the same chord to different tempos. It’s a great soundscape, slowly getting blurrier, more distorted and increasingly abstract, increasingly woozy, just like a good night out basically. That said, I’m not sold on the tape hiss, whose “thousand crickets put through a hi-pass filter” kind of sound gets pretty damn grating after the first 8 or so minutes.
And we finish with There Is No Other Place, a real oddity with which I basically have no real frame of reference in. It’s still psych’d out, for sure, but it also rocks- at a pretty upbeat tempo! – which after the first two tracks is not something I expected at all. I’ve never heard any Acid Mothers Temple but I always figured it would sound something like this just based on the name. It’s pretty cool, quite punky, a little bit Boris-ish, with most of the abstraction saved for some gloriously noised out lead guitar lines and texture. One assumes it’s some sort of statement – a reminder you’re in the real world, or a reminder that ROCK, or perhaps some sort of zen stuff, who knows. It’s cool and all – an album like this would be a pretty neat car album – but I’m not convinced of its place in the album. Oh well.
But hey, an oddity it might be, it’s still a pretty enjoyable tune.
Every song here is freakin’ cool – perhaps more coherence would be nice but it’s still a very enjoyable 50 odd minutes. Well worth your time – whether it just brightens up your morning bus trip to work, or makes your morning heroin a bit more enjoyable – this is high quality music that most fans of psych will enjoy greatly.
Scribed by: Caspian Yurisich