You know that feeling when you discover that two apparently disparate friends actually know each other independent from your own connections? It’s exciting isn’t it? While I can’t claim that American folk guitar virtuoso Ryley Walker or Japanese pastoral psych sensations Kikagaku Moyo are personal friends of mine, I did get a similar feeling when I came across their unlikely collaboration upon it’s release this month.
I initially became acquainted with the work of Walker via his wonderful 2015 album Primrose Green, an incredible LP which showcases not only the Chicagoan’s extraordinary guitar playing but his ability to craft a hook laden pop song akin to Van Morrison or Bert Jansch. Walker has been prolific since and while I have to admit to struggling to formulate a similar relationship to any record since Primrose Green, I always welcome his presence on my streaming channel. If you’re into the Americana folk rock of the likes of Steve Gunn or Kevin Morby, there’ll be something in Walkers extensive back cat for you. His Twitter is also very good value.
Kikagaku Moyo were one of the stand-outs, along with labelmates Minami Deutsch, at the 2016 iteration of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. That year Tokyo label Guruguru Brain presented an excellent showcase of the embarrassment of riches overflowing from their roster. The festival was expertly reported on by Bido scribes Matt Hogarth and Tom Bell here. That visit was on the back of the ensemble’s incredible House In The Tall Grass, an album with the complexities, textures and drinkability of a fine Japanese whiskey.
In 2018 these two worlds collided with a special set at dutch festival Le Guess Who? which involved the Japanese five-piece duelling with Walker’s band. The results were released at the start of February in the form of two-track mini album Deep Fried Grandeur, and have soundtracked to my daily strolls since. The record is a pan global journey taking in Eastern flavours, motorik motifs – the lifeblood of Pzyk – and hints of a live alchemy which we are all sorely missing at the moment. Apparently the two bands only rehearsed once before taking to the stage for this performance, a fact which further adds to the feeling that this a record of some very special talent at the height of their powers. It’s also testament to the unifying powers of live music. “Oh you know each other yeah? Nice one.”