17 November 2021

KUUNATIC- Gate of Klüna (2021 LP/CD Glitterbeat)




Label: Glitterbeat

Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Gatefold

Format: CD, Album, Deluxe Gatefold with Booklet

Release Date: 29 Oct 2021

It seems that the ‘Country of The Rising Sun’ keeps on surprising us, with releases, records, that do not leave us to quit, albums that give us the courage to continue our monastic psychedelic quest… Kuunatic is a relatively newly formed female trio, hailing from Tokyo, Japan, having previously released an EP (“Kuurandia”, 2017) and a split 7” (with Taiwanese fuzz psych garage band Crocodelia).  Kuunatic are Fumie Kikuchi on keys and vocals, Yuko Araki on drums and vocals, and Shoko Yoshida on bass and vocals, and all three of them have a completely different musical and cultural background, a tribal-psych trio that explores ritual drumming, pulsing bass lines, atmospheric keyboard sounds, and Japanese traditional instruments, and we must not forget the ritual vocals. “Gate of Klüna” is Kuunatic’s debut album, it is produced by Tim DeWit (Gang Gang Dance), and as the band states “the record reveals a mesmerizing sound world that transcends genres and hemispheres and succeeds in being both boldly experimental and wildly catchy”…
“Gate of Klüna” is a conceptual album that tells the story of the imaginary planet Kuurandia, how the planet began, evolved, and was explored. “Gate of Klüna” is a very psychedelic album in a very weird experimental Japanese way and I dare you to read the notes about this concept album because I think this is the only way to enter Kuunatic’s esoteric world with the smallest suspicion of what to expect!

Please read carefully:

“Creating a world has many advantages. Notions of time and space can be bent, Urizen-like, to the will and reasoning of the creator. Although formed in Tokyo in 2016, a city that is very much on this planet, Kuunatic first looked to another heavenly body to shape their project. In interviews the band have cited that their name is drawn from kuu, the Finnish word for the moon; inspired in part by original Finnish guitarist, Sanni. Keyboardist Fumie helps guide the uninitiated. “Kuunatic’s musical concept is a fantasy. Our first EP’s title ‘Kuurandia’ is the name of the fantasy planet we live on. The EP was a prologue. And this [debut album] is a concept album about how the planet began, evolved, and was explored. It consists of eight songs and each song has a story to tell.”
Julian Cope once wrote that Japanese rockers “thrust everything they discover from the outside world through their own singularly Japanese filter, […] often bringing forth something magnificent and wholly better than that which had first inspired it.” Given we are dealing with a band whose drummer, Yuko Araki, proclaimed (in an interview with African Paper) that they are “ultimately unclassifiable – though I could say we are Kuurandian,” it is futile to give Kuunatic any anchoring in terms of style or scene; though recognizing fragments of other sounds is great fun. Fumie considers Cope’s premise. “It applies to us in some sense. We like to mix and experiment with everything we saw, heard, experienced, and thought, not only in Japan but elsewhere, to create a unique world. During long tours, we always talk a lot, experience the same things, play around, come up with very bizarre ideas and make them into songs. Kuurandia is like our imaginary utopia. We don’t think we are excellent players, but we believe that we always passionately embody our ideas and our adoration for fantasy.”
The listener is advised not to cast their net too narrowly, as Kuunatic’s music seems to invoke many responses around the world. This writer hears the echoes of weird off-kilter hybrids and psyched-out chamber music from the likes of Os Mutantes, Basil Kirchin, The Raincoats, or Manfred Hübler. Drummer Yuko again: “it’s interesting that audiences always try to categorize us according to so many different musical genres.” But musical interpretations will inevitably circle around their home base on their “other” planet, Japan. Japanese audiences sometimes consider Kuunatic as “amplified” Shinto shrine maidens (miko). Fumie chips in. “Our sound consists of many different kinds of music, but certain unique Japanese instruments and their sounds give a special atmosphere to Kuunatic’s world. Japanese traditional music exists in very close proximity to us even if we don’t go to see Gagaku (Japanese shrine music) or Kabuki (Japanese traditional theatrical performance). Fumie has been playing the Kagura flute (Japanese shrine music flute) since childhood, Shoko’s name includes the Japanese character
which means a Japanese traditional instrument, and Yuko sometimes visits a Homa burning at a temple and listens to their powerful chanting rhythm. We hear traditional music everywhere at summer festivals in Japan, so the music is imprinted in us as a very familiar sound.”
The possibilities to project onto Kuunatic’s music are endless. This is because the band has created that rare thing, catchy music that is impossible to pigeonhole. The track ‘Lava Naksh’ is a form of renaissance dance; a pavane, maybe, albeit with Kraftwerk’s early organ sound. ‘Full Moon Spree’ could be a ritual version of The Fall’s ‘What You Need’. ‘Raven’s War’ is a dry-as-dust progressive soundtrack, it could be a lost cut from the Valley of the Dolls record. The transportative elements in all are key: certain beats and near-melismatic melody lines hark back to archaic processional and ritual music. In ‘Desert Empress Part II’ for example, a glowering bass line walks ponderously alongside the toms, framing and guiding the mood. Finishing matters off with what sounds like a backwards organ is also discombobulating. Such sonic sleights of hand are part of the Kuunatic playbook. But we must remember an old psychonaught’s advice: the menu is not the meal, and the map is not the territory”…

“Gate of Klüna” contains 8 tracks… 8 Trips… 8 Experiments… 8 cosmic experiences… Sacred bells ring at the dawn of a new era with “Dewbow”, drenched in mystery, kind of acoustic, a deep psych atmos… then the ritual vocals are appearing and the tune is transformed into a Global Piece of Psych Art! Under a torturous hallucinogenic background that somehow flirts with Japanese Folklore music, a tribal kind of thing is slowly emerging and serious amounts of LSD are sprayed in the air… Our new empress rises with magical refrains, “Desert Empress Part 1” and “Desert Empress Part 2” are following, and I literally don’t know what the heck I’m listening to! What is this? Tribal-delia? Psych-e-delia from the Far East? The Acid is slowly flowing, the mind is slowly burning every single brain cell, this is one of the most beautiful brainiac tortures that I imposed myself into! OK, so, just these 3 girls are producing these spectacular psychedelic sounds? How they are doing it? The scenery slowly turns to a mind-bending creepy one, sounds like I’m inside a Red Crayola recording session! As the planet prospers, Kuurandians hold a ball under the full moon, “Full Moon Spree” dives deeper, and further, and everything has become dark white by now… and… “Tītián” celebrates the richness of the harvest, the peaceful time seems to last forever and I’m wondering do they have Sirens in Kuurandia? I think I’m lured away by their enchanting music and their singing voices and I’m going to shipwreck on a rocky coast… All of a sudden a gigantic volcano emerges in the middle of moonrise mountains… “Lava Naksh” starts and Kuunatic chants enigmatic mantras like praying, to prevent its eruption through a Tribal Middle Eastern Druggy and quite ‘Dead Can Dance-y’ soundscape… However, unidentified invaders appear from its roaming lava and the war of predation begins…  “Raven’s War” with its mysterious torturously psychedelic fine blend of musical sounds, finds Kuunatic fighting and dropping their magical spells, and finally they win the battle… After 35 seconds of absolute nothingness, “Para Bennyà” reveals three pythonesses sing a mystic triumph song, then lead their people to a deep dreamy forest… a Shamanic liturgy kind of thing… Instruments are of no need, by now… “Gate of Klüna” is ONE OF THE BEST albums of 2021. I really can’t tell if Kuunatic intended to make a Psychedelic record. I don’t even know if this is Psychedelic Rock, but at least to my ears, Yes, it is a new form of Psychedelia… My expectations are very high about their next step but I’m pretty sure that this new kind form of music, this new hybrid that is taking Flesh and Blood and goes by the name Kuurandiadelia, is going to keep me pretty occupied for the many many many more days to come! TimeLord Michalis



A1 Dewbow 5:43
A2 Desert Empress Part 1 6:21
A3 Desert Empress Part 2 3:45
A4 Full Moon Spree 2:48
A5 Titián 4:39
B1 Lava Naksh 6:41
B2 Raven’s War 6:50
B3 Para Bennyà 6:26


Get/Listen the album through KUUNATIC Bandcamp

Alternatively, get it via SHINY BEAST Mailorder

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