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TEMPLES

180g vinyl pressing. – ‘A love letter to the masters of Japanese ambient and environmental music.’

During the late 2010s, music lovers around the world began obsessively listening to increasingly esoteric albums on Youtube. More often than not, they’d leave the browser on autoplay. This was how Facundo Arena, the composer and producer behind The Kyoto Connection, discovered the technonaturalistic pleasures of Kankyō Ongaku (environmental music), a distinctly Japanese interpretation of European, British and American minimalist composition and ambient music. ‘It was a kind of algorithmic magic’ he says.

Upload by upload, the utopian music of Hiroshi Yoshimura and his 80s Japanese contemporaries transported Facundo back to his childhood. When he was five, his father placed him in karate lessons and began watching martial arts movies with him. From those early experiences, Facundo became fascinated Japanese history, tradition, and culture, particularly that of Kyoto - the cultural capital of Japan. Kankyō Ongaku reminded him of hearing the sounds of Japanese folkloric instruments as a young boy, and suddenly, the way the influence of Japan had manifested in his music made sense. ‘I had the sensation that for many years, I’d been doing something similar to the style,’ he explains.

Inspired, Facundo used an iPad and an old Akai cassette deck to record “Postcards”, his homage to Japanese minimalism and Kankyō Ongaku. By this stage, he was twelve years deep with The Kyoto Connection, the musical project he launched in 2005 in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Over that late 2000s and 2010s, Facundo, later on joined by collaborators Rodrigo Trado (drums), Jesica Rubino (violin) and Marian Benitez (vocals, now his wife), released numerous D.I.Y albums. Project by project, they followed the threads between 80s synth-pop, ambient, new age, house, techno and acoustic composition.

“Postcards” introduced The Kyoto Connection to listeners around the world and brought Facundo into our orbit. During Argentina’s covid lockdown, Facundo received a set of soundscapes recorded in Kyoto by the Japanese musician and sound designer Masafumi Komatsu. Over several insular months, he decorated them with synthesisers, samples and subtle rhythms, creating The Kyoto Connection’s next album, “The Flower, The Bird and the Mountain” which was a natural choice for Isle Of Jura offshoot Temples Of Jura.

Ostensibly made up of twelve distinct tracks, listening to “The Flower, The Bird and the Mountain” feels more akin to spending calm, meditative time in twelve specific environments. Although the foundations they rest on are recordings made in geographic locations around Kyoto, Facundo has yet to visit Japan. As a result, the landscapes he paints sit somewhere between fiction and fact, richly pictorial sonic imagination juxtaposed with echoes of reality. Regardless, as his bubbling melodies and glistening synthesisers glide against Masafumi Komatsu's recordings, Facundo guides us into a blissful zone of tranquility well worth spending time within.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Sublime Japanese-inspired serenity from The Kyoto Connection. Perfect blue-sky gazing in the garden music - through the LP's course you're transported to place of absolute calm and horizontal decadence. Make sure you've a waiter to hand as you won't want to leave the hammock!

TRACK LISTING

Memories From Japan
The Flower The Bird And The Mountain Part 1
Forest Of Correction
Mindscape I
Setsukos Smile
Dojo
Ujigami Shrine
Mindscape Ii
A Night At Kumano Kodo
Computer Dreams
Mindscape Iii
The Flower The Bird And The Mountain Part Ii

Kikagaku Moyo

Masana Temples - Repress

    Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound.

    The shifting dimensions of Masana Temples, fourth album from psychedelic explorers Kikagaku Moyo,are informed by various experiences the band had with traveling through life together, ranging from the months spent on tour to making a pilgrimage to Lisbon to record the album with jazz musician Bruno Pernadas. The band sought out Pernadas both out of admiration for his music and in an intentional move to work with a producer who came from a wildly different background. With Masana Temples, the band wanted to challenge their own concepts of what psychedelic music could be. Elements of both the attentive folk and wild-eyed rocking sides of the band are still intact throughout, but they’re sharper and more defined.

    More than the literal interpretation of being on a journey, the album’s always changing sonic panorama reflects the spiritual connection of the band moving through this all together. Life for a traveling band is a series of constant metamorphoses, with languages, cultures, climates and vibes changing with each new town. The only constant for Kikagaku Moyo throughout their travels were the five band members always together moving through it all, but each of them taking everything in from very different perspectives. Inspecting the harmonies and disparities between these perspectives, the group reflects the emotional impact of their nomadic paths. The music is the product of time spent in motion and all of the bending mindsets that come with it.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Entrance
    2. Dripping Sun
    3. Nazo Nazo
    4. Fluffy Kosmisch
    5. Nana
    6. Nana
    7. Orange Peel
    8. Amayadori
    9. Gatherings
    10. Blanket Song

    Temples

    Paraphernalia

      Produced by Sean Ono Lennon and mixed by David Fridman, this 7" features ‘Paraphernalia’ on the A-side and the band logo Ankh edged into the B-side.

      TRACK LISTING

      Paraphernalia

      Temples

      Hot Motion

        It is one of the brilliant facets of recorded music that while it can frame forever in time one of humanity’s most fluid art forms, those captured sounds themselves can go on to become an active launchpad for the ideas, memories, emotions and feelings of those listening. Returning with their third album, Hot Motion, Temples have not just provided a strong demonstration of this dual static/frenetic nature, but they’ve created a record that revels in this beautiful contradiction.

        A brilliantly crafted, thoughtfully recorded collection, the album’s propulsive, seemingly immediate songs soon reveal an impressive depth of ideas and energy with subsequent listens because, as its title warns, Hot Motion is not a record that stands still.

        “I’m excited for people to experience these songs for the first time,” declares singer and guitarist James Bagshaw. “They are constructed in such a way that the album should feel relatively instantaneous, but we did not water down our creative ideas. Getting that balance can be hard, perhaps on the last record on some songs we used too many layers to create depth, but making this album we discovered that depth doesn’t simply come by layering things, it can come from the intensity of an idea.”

        While proud of 2017’s electronically orchestrated Volcano, the trio – completed by bassist Tom Walmsley and guitarist Adam Smith – feel they have reconnected with the verve and spirit of their debut, 2014’s Sun Structures, although Hot Motion proves as unique and forward-thinking as any Temples album.

        “There’s something more primal about this record,” suggests Walmsley of its energy. “We didn’t want to complicate things. We wanted it to have a more robust feel to it and focus more on guitars. Having less on there, but making everything sound as big as possible. I’ve always wanted our records to sound quite grand and larger than life, but we achieved that with some more earthy sounds in this time.”

        As with the band’s first two LPs, the group recorded the album themselves in Northamptonshire, although this side of Temples as evolved too. “We’ve gone from bedroom to living room to a dedicated space. We could all set up in the same room and allow things to play out a lot more like a band. That played a huge part in the sound of the record,” says Walmsley, although despite the extra room Hot Motion remains a home recording like its predecessors.

        "The room is a 300 year-old outbuilding at my house,” continues Bagshaw. “I spent two years fixing it up because it had a leaky iron roof on it. It was nice to work in a space which had a little charm to it but still felt like home recording.”

        That space fed directly into Temples vision. While retaining their enviably poppy instincts, the band created a host of brand new guitar sounds for this record and also took a lead from the “simplicity” of some 70s rock recordings which ensured the fundamentals behind each track are organic and original. “We were hiding less behind synth sounds and delays, which meant that the pureness of the melodic construct of each song was more thought through,” explains Bagshaw. “There was an element of less is more in some places.”

        A glorious technicolour infuses much if the album, but there is a David Lynch-like undertone that adds a gravity to Hot Motion’s soaring moments. “It felt like there was a darker edge to what we were coming up with and we wanted to make sure that carried through across the whole record,” says Walmsley. “It’s not a ten track, relentless rock record from start to finish, it’s got a lot of light and shade and more tender moments, but that heavier, darker sound for us is something we wanted to make sure was in there and explore further.”

        The exemplar of this is the opener and title track Hot Motion. Starting with a seemingly innocent, crunked ice cream van-like riff, the song quickly bounds through a sonic landscape of shadowy valleys and exalted highs as the track captures Temples at their inventive best, and shares an expansive, irresistible energy with the listener.

        “Hot Motion is the feature piece,” declares Walmsley. “It was one of the first songs we put together for the record and it felt like it had all the marks and inspiration that we wanted the whole record to have, that was an important track.” Bagshaw agrees, suggesting that it set a tone for the next phase of Temples’ development. “Hot Motion is a better song than I ever dreamed it could be,” he says. “There was something in essence of that song to conjure with.”

        From the impressive opening, the rest of Hot Motion similarly boats an initial immediacy before unfurling greater depth and ideas, although each song cascades onto its own unique territory. Tracks like The Beam, It’s All Coming Out and Step Down offer swirling, enticing mini journeys, while the groove on Context “huge and a bit of a nod to an old school hip hop vibe” according to Bagshaw. “Songs like The Howl and Holy Horses have a slightly harder, heavier than we’ve done before,” adds Walmsley. “It felt like it was very important to retain that element on the record because it allowed us to open up with tracks like Atomise.”

        Lyrically too, this record has seen Temples embrace “purer, primal” feelings.

        “I’m really proud of You’re Either On Something lyrically because I feel deeply connected with the words – they’re so truthful,” admits Bagshaw. “On that track, I can hear influences of stuff that I listened to when I was growing up. There’s almost a nostalgia to that track, even though it’s very forward-looking. Equally, while the words on [album closer] Monuments are a little cryptic, it’s very much about the time we live in. I wouldn’t say it’s a political song but you can’t help but write about the things that are happening otherwise you’d just be a hermit.”

        Fizzing with ideas, bursting with kinetic energy and balancing an immediate impact with an enduring, timeless intensity, Hot Motion is an album that very much provides a snapshot one of Britain’s most progressive bands’ soul, while offering its audience a starting point for their own flights of emotion and imagination. Indeed, one of its creators is jealous that he cannot experience it anew too.

        “This record has really got me excited,” declares Bagshaw. “I really want to be on the receiving end of it more than any other record we’ve done. While we were making it I was thinking I wanted to be able to hear what it sounded like without working on it – I’d love to hear this out of the context in which it was made. I was really longing for that as we worked on each song, so I’m excited for people to experience these songs for the first time.”

        Don’t delay this life-affirming trip, Hot Motion awaits.

        TRACK LISTING

        1 Hot Motion
        2 You're Either On Something
        3 Holy Horses
        4 The Howl
        5 Context
        6 The Beam
        7 Not Quite The Same
        8 Atomise
        9 It's All Coming Out
        10 Step Down
        11 Monuments

        Cypress Hill

        III (Temples Of Boom)

          Twenty years ago Cypress Hill was on top of the world, with two chart topping albums and several number one singles. Upon its release on Halloween, "Temples of Boom" might have illustrated their total disregard for the commercial success they’d enjoyed up until that point. This album was darker. The beats were spookier. The lyrics were grim. Even the album cover had a gloomier look, which is saying a lot when looking back at Black Sunday’s cover. It seemed that instead of riding the success of their previous two platinum albums they were heading in the opposite direction, pop culture be damned. Then something strange happened: "Temples of Boom" went platinum. B-Real, Sen Dog, and Muggs had put out an album that was all about them, not the mainstream or Columbia Records, and it worked. The fans remained steadfastly open to something new. 

          TRACK LISTING

          1. "Spark Another Owl" Freese, Muggerud 3:40
          2. "Throw Your Set In The Air" Freese, Muggs 4:08
          3. "Stoned Raiders" Freese, Muggerud, Reyes 2:54
          4. "Illusions" Freese, Muggerud 4:28
          5. "Killa Hill Niggas" (featuring RZA And U-God) Diggs, Freese, Reyes 4:03
          6. "Boom Biddy Bye Bye" Freese, Muggerud, Reyes 4:04
          7. "No Rest For The Wicked" Muggerud, Freese 5:01
          8. "Make A Move" Freese, Muggerud 4:33
          9. "Killafornia" Muggerud, Freese 2:56
          10. "Funk Freakers" Freese, Muggerud 3:16
          11. "Locotes" Freese, Muggerud, Reyes 3:39
          12. "Red Light Visions" Freese, Muggerud 1:46
          13. "Strictly Hip Hop" Freese, Muggerud 4:33
          14. "Let It Rain" Freese, Muggerud 3:45
          15. "Everybody Must Get Stoned"

          It doesn’t take too long with Volcano to realise that, while all the things that made the band special the first time around remain intact, a noticeable evolution has taken place. It’s there from the outset: the beefed-up beats of Certainty reveal an expanded sonic firmament, one in which bright synth hooks and insistent choruses circle around each other over chord sequences that strike just the right balance between nice and queasy. “If there’s a sense of scale,” says lead singer James Bagshaw, “It was really just a result of implementing a load of things that we didn’t know about the first time around.” Co-founding member and bassist Thomas Walmsley describes a record in which “we discovered a lot as we went along, and the excitement at having done so radiates

          One thing you do notice is that it’s harder to spot the influences this time around. It would be disingenuous to evade the psych-pop tag, for sure, but mystical language has been supplanted by something a more direct – and while those influences are still there, it’s no longer possible to pick them out. They’ve been broken down and blended together – fossilised into a single source of creative fuel, so that what you can hear this time around, sounds like nothing so much as Temples. This is the sound of a band squaring up to their potential.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: More synthy than their debut but crucially just as hyper-melodic, Temples bring the magic of a bygone era right into the present with huge aplomb. It's a beautiful thing.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Certainty
          2. All Join In
          3. (I Wanna Be Your) Mirror
          4. Oh The Saviour
          5. Born Into The Sunset
          6. How Would You Like To Go
          7. Open Air
          8. In My Pocket
          9. Celebration
          10. Mystery Of Pop
          11. Roman God-Like Man
          12. Strange Or Be Forgotten

          Holy Serpent

          Temples

            The concept of “skate-rock” has been around for many years, but it has never been embodied as well as on Temples, the new album by Holy Serpent. While the band members are just casual skateboarders themselves, one might be tempted to think that skating has subtly influenced the band's sound. Not only in the elements of 70s hard rock crossed with punk values and energy. But, the music itself is like riding a skateboard: slow grooving passages can shift on a dime into fast thrill-ride riffs. There’s an exhilarating freedom of movement and unpredictability to the sound.

            In the short time since their self-titled RidingEasy debut in mid-2015, Melbourne, Australia’s Holy Serpent have gained a lot of attention for their rather punk version of heavy psych and metal. Fittingly, there’s a strong vibe of early Soundgarden, Saint Vitus and Kyuss to Temples in that it’s undeniably heavy, but also clever in its experimentation with subtle tempo shifts, multiple vocal effects and other production techniques. But it’s still more Sabotage than Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

            Temples is heavier in tone than the first album, and also more sonically rich and aggressive. The 5-song, 44-minute album finds vocalist/guitarist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Dave Bartlett and drummer Danny Leo (new drummer Lance Leembrugen has replaced Leo since recording to complete the live lineup) expanding the hooks while simultaneously taking listeners on a rigorous ride.

            “We've found playing slow all the time got a tad boring so we've mixed it up a bit with tempo changes and added more parts to each song to make them sort of flow like a story,” Penberthy says. “The challenge was making sure it still flowed as it should. ‘All killer no filler' was a bit of a motto this time around when writing the songs.”

            Album opener “Purification by Fire” emerges slowly from a primordial swamp of a reversed gong crash, synth swells, guitar feedback and lightly plucked bass notes before it all coalesces into a driving but slow-burn riff that spans the length of the fretboard as the drum patterns also subtly shift and slide underneath. It’s a brilliant effect, albeit one you might miss if you’re not paying attention. “Bury Me Standing” launches full throttle with a raging guitar solo over a driving riff/rhythm before a quick about-face into a march as Penberthy’s effect-soaked vocals wail above the proceedings. The song builds slowly upon its elements until Penberthy howls an impassioned plea, “bury me standing, I will not forgive you.” Album centerpiece “Toward the Sands” further pushes the tempo changes and sonic experimentation to great effect as the song effortlessly turns on a dime from fast rager to doom, while all sounding cohesive and melodically infectious. Album closer “Sativan Harvest” is an epic nearly 12-minute multi-part journey, built around a central blues motif that drifts into a massive haze of droning guitars set to fat rhythm pickup tone as it swells then recedes, only to restructure into a mutated version of the original motif that eventually abruptly ends with violin, cello and synths in a slow fade into the ether. 

            Temples

            Sun Structures

              The album was recorded at home, in the box-room of James's house in Kettering, an end terrace with a blessedly forgiving neighbour. "I'm always apologising to him for the noise, but he says, 'It's not noise, it's music,'" says James. The band aim for Jack Nietzche production on a DIY budget – and succeed. "It's similar to Joe Meek – he used to record vocals in his bathroom in his flat on Holloway Road," says Tom. "The way I see it, there aren't any limitations any more," says James. "If you know what you want to achieve, there's always a way around it."

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Andy says: Cool as you like psychedelic pop album, with some massive melodies and trippy sounds.

              TRACK LISTING

              1 Shelter Song
              2 Sun Structures
              3 The Golden Throne
              4 Keep In The Dark
              5 Mesmerise
              6 Move With The Season
              7 Colours To Life
              8 A Question Isn't Answered
              9 The Guesser
              10 Test Of Time
              11 Sand Dance
              12 Fragment's Light 


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