Worth the Trip

The band Kikagaku Moyo is made up of a group of five friends who began their journey to international touring status by busking on the streets in Tokyo, Japan.

There are many reasons why people visit Monterey County. To get married. To drive the coastline. And now: to attend a show of the Amsterdam-based Japanese psychedelic quintet Kikagaku Moyo.

“Those guys are so great,” says Mark Turner, who plans to make the five-plus-hour drive from where he lives in Los Angeles to attend the band’s Nov. 9 show at the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur. And Turner isn’t the only one making a special trip: “I’m really excited for the show,” says Ana Garudangiri, a student living in San Francisco.

The allure of listening to Kikagaku Moyo (the name translates to “geometric patterns”) live began almost a decade ago when the band started busking in Tokyo. They quickly found an audience with American and European music lovers. Flash forward 10 years and the band has founded its own music label – Guruguru Brain – to showcase the East Asian music scene. Between their own music and that of other acts, Kikagaku Moyo has produced at least 10 albums, with more in development.

Fusing elements of folk, Krautrock (a genre of experimental rock developed in West Germany in the late 1960s) and psychedelica, the idea of journeying also seems to be something key to appreciating the mystique.

“Often within the trip, you will find something that makes you feel nostalgic, something that brings back memories of the past and no matter how crazy the journey is, we always come back to where we were or where we belong and we feel calm,” percussionist and co-founding member Go Kurosawa told NPR in 2018.

“There really is something transcendent about their music,” says Turner, who has at different points pressed albums for various underground Los Angeles bands.

Kikagaku Moyo’s latest record, Deep Fried Grandeur, is a two-track collaboration with guitarist Ryley Walker, who will also perform at Fernwood. The album was recorded during a live show in Holland in 2018, and released in February of this year. It gained heavy airplay on various streaming services and helped the band maintain momentum following a year that brought most live music to a halt.

Kikagaku Moyo began a month-long European tour in August – the American dates started last week. The Nov. 9 show at Fernwood will offer an intimacy of setting that seems to suit the band well.

“I’ve been waiting to see them and am looking forward to catching them in that venue,” Turner says. “It’s the best way to see a band like that. Listen to the music. Sleep below the redwoods. Definitely worth the trip.”

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