[sic] Magazine

Kikagaku Moyo – Mammatus Clouds

Kikagaku Moyo are on a roll. Forming in 2012, the Japanese psyche machine has already released on Burger, Captcha, Sky Lantern, Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, Cosmic Eye and Sound Effect Records. Now the mighty Cardinal Fuzz label are getting in on the act too, re-releasing the band’s previously cassette-only Mammatus Clouds. And, thanks to an it-performance at this year’s Austin Psych Fest, it’s so hot their fancy vinyl edition has already sold out on pre-orders!

Mammatus clouds are crazy-weird udder formations that appear during storms and 幾何学模様 (Kikagaku Moyo) translates as geometric patterns, something these “free music” aficionados claim to see flashing across their eyelids during mammoth jam sessions. The band’s recent Forest Of Lost Children is, naturally therefore, beyond intense, so it’s pleasant to hark back to more meditative times here. There are only three tracks during Mammatus Clouds’ patient running time and they’re all quite different.

The entire A-side is dedicated to “Pond”, a 27-minute sitar-fired super-jam that gently wends its way from ebbing cosmic shimmer to pulsing ritual and Eastern drone. Locking on with 10 minutes to go, the track launches into fuel-injected wormhole exploration only to exit in the tranquil third eye of some psychedelic storm. You’re ultimately jarred from this reverie by rapturous applause to close, serving to underline the one-take epicness of what went before.

On the flip, sitar player Ryu bends and bubbles his strings for 16 minutes on “Never Know”, an acidic hiss creeping into the mix that fills the ears with serpentine suggestion before descending into white noise and unintelligible muttering. Side B then closes with “There Is No Other Place” – much more than the 3-minute tag-on it may first appear. That mumbling vocal grows in stature, a gothic gloom developing amidst the Birds Of Maya-style static. Rampant pedal abuse follows to sandblast the ears and the strutting rocker it becomes is a real face-melter.

Each of these tracks would in truth be better bled into its successor for one hell of a mega-mix, but for that you need the live show not the limitations of split-side wax. Austin rarely gets it wrong and Mammatus Clouds is testament to that all the same.

~Mammatus Clouds is re-released September 2nd 2014 via Cardinal Fuzz.~