In many ways Kumoyo Island represents the culmination of a journey for Kikagaku Moyo. While their decade-long career can be summarized as a series of kaleidoscopic explorations through lands and dimensions far and near, there’s a strong intention in each of their works to take the listener to a particular place, however real or abstract they may be. In that sense, the title and cover art for the band’s fifth and final album draws you into a magical mass of land surrounded by water—but the couch suggests that Kumoyo Island may not be a fleeting stop, but rather a place of respite, where one could pause and take it all in.
Reconvening at Tsubame Studios in Asakusabashi, Tokyo, where their earliest material had been recorded, the five members of Kikagaku Moyo found new inspiration in a familiar and comfortable environment. With their adopted homebase of Amsterdam under lockdown and their touring activities halted due to the pandemic, the band felt a renewed sense of freedom being back in shitamachi, or the old downtown area of their hometown. With unrestricted time in the studio, they began to build upon the demos and song fragments they’d amassed since their last tour. In the 1.5 months spent in Tokyo, everything started to come together.
“Monaka”, its name taken from a type of Japanese wafer sweets, takes melodic inspiration from traditional minyo folk styles, while “Yayoi Iyayoi” is a rare instance of the band singing in their native tongue, its evocative lyrics utilizing archaic words taken from old poetry and nature books found in one of the many secondhand bookstores of Tokyo. For “Meu Mar”, an Erasmos Carlos cover, the original Portuguese lyrics were translated into English, then to Japanese. Strangely enough, the words seem to conjure an image of the protagonist floating among the clouds, looking down upon Tokyo Bay.
In fact, it may be possible to draw a parallel between the topography of the band’s home country—an island nation, surrounded by bodies of water—and the mysterious isle of Kumoyo. Are they one and the same? Has the band finally made it back home? It’s up to the listener to decide.