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Album Review

Emerging from Houston with a healthy appreciation for both shoegazing roots and lo-fi guitar pop murmuring, Buddha on the Moon came up with a fine debut album in Stratospheric. Following a series of singles and splits, Stratospheric is another classic showcase of an American act not so much redefining the frontiers of the blissout tradition as refining it in its own particular way. Main man and sole permanent member HK Kahng has a lovely, drowsy vocal that's never boring, while his way around both louder and quieter electric guitar is quite attractive, often powerful. Assisted on the home recordings that make up the album by a couple of guests on keyboards and backing vocals but otherwise on his own, he comes up with the goods in spades. Opening cut "As You Said" is a great start, massive distorted guitar blasts in the finest Kevin Shields tradition mixing with slow but punchy drum hits and, in a nice touch, sweetly soaring keyboard lines. "Now That You're a Star" has another grand combination of wash and crunch to strongly recommend it, plus a flat out great solo at the end that just takes everything higher. Flecks of rushed '80s Brit guitar pop surface at many a point — consider the main melody of "Coastal Hwys." When it comes to a song with quieter touches to it like "Judas Iscariot," Kahng's vocals take on a new life, even stronger and lovelier than before. The understated but present passion in both performance and lyrics is quite something. Equally touching is the cover of Northern Picture Library's "Norfolk Windmills," both a slight but welcome surprise and a solid performance all around. The original's vibe carries over in the echoing rhythm box and wistful air here, but Kahng still makes it his own.


Formed: Houston, TX

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s

Buddha on the Moon is the nom de plume four-track of H.K. Kahng. Obviously inspired by artists on seminal British indie labels like 4AD and Sarah, this resident of Houston, TX, creates one-man-band recordings mixing shoegazer atmospherics, twee pop melodies, occasional dabs of space rock hypnotism, and a production style that's more low-key than lo-fi. Kahng debuted Buddha on the Moon in the early '90s, releasing the EP Alles Ist Gut! on his own Farrago label in 1993. The "Broke" single came out...
Full Bio
Stratospheric, Buddha On The Moon
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