Kikagaku Moyo Masana Temples

Kikagaku Moyo Masana Temples
You never know what to expect when you put on a Kikagaku Moyo album. Excepting a striking groove and a strong sense of rhythm, there are limited similarities between what the Japanese band have put out in the past. Kikagaku Moyo continue this unpredictability into their fourth project, the elusive world of Masana Temples.
"Masana" is a fictional word created by the band to express the feeling of a harmonious (and utopian) world. It's fitting that a group who found their sound in Tokyo's experimental scene would play with language and ideas beyond reality — and Masana Temples is successful in its scope. You can imagine these songs creating and forming a realm: the depth of the instrumental psychedelia of "Entrance," or the more indie-pop melody of "Nana," anthemic in its rise. When the sampling of birds and rain percolates in the softness of "Amayadori," the idea of this utopia seems to merge with our own reality, before once more withdrawing to a place just out of reach.
Like all tales of utopia, Masana Temples works to keep itself slightly unknowable. The music is at its best when it surprises, as on the folk-pulsed "Blanket Song" and the peppy bass-loaded "Majupose." When it leans on psychedelic tropes, however, the familiarity feels jarring. "Orange Peel" floats with an effort that is sweet, and "Gatherings" features an electric guitar solo, but both tracks lack the freshness found elsewhere on the album.
Masana Temples is a comparatively accessible release from Kikagaku Moyo, despite rooting itself in a reality outside of our own. The ease with which these tracks can be entered leaves one wondering whether this utopian vision — for all its gestures at peace — could be closer to us than we thought. (Guruguru Brain)