Japanese rockers Kikagaku Moyo: ‘Watching people board a train – that’s psychedelic!’

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As they play Glastonbury on what will be their final tour, the unmissable psych-rockers talk about forging their sound with all-night jams, ‘creative imperfection’ and going out on their own terms

When we think of psychedelic music, we think of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the 13th Floor Elevators, blurry images from Woodstock. But for Japanese band Kikagaku Moyo, psychedelia is exemplified by their nation’s countercultural heroes Acid Mothers Temple with their cauldron of intense fuzz, and Flower Travellin’ Band. Go Kurosawa, the frontman of Kikagaku Moyo, also cites present-day Tokyo. “The music, the cinema, the culture, the freedom in not having to be technically perfect or be restricted. Our psychedelia doesn’t come from the hippy scene, it’s in nature, it’s in the chants you hear at the temple. Watching people board the train every day? That’s psychedelic.”

The dynamic energy of a Kikagaku Moyo live show – one in which the long-haired members of the band often digress into 10-minute long jams – stems from Takadanobaba, a college neighbourhood in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo in the early 2010s. Drifting between vintage stores, bars populated by college students, and recording studios open late into the night, the quintet formed, and today, thanks to near-levitating live performances and spellbinding albums, they’re at the forefront of Japanese rock music. But after the release of their fifth album, Kumoyo Island, Kikagaku Moyo are breaking up, after an international farewell tour: an explicitly un-American choice to avoid continuing, and possibly diluting, what they’ve created.

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