Friday 3 February 2023

Mienakunaru - Strato Arcology (Album Review)

Release Date: May 06th 2022. Record Label: Echodelick Records (USA) / Riot Season Records (UK). Formats: DD/Vinyl

Strato Arcology Tracklisting

1.Mega Blocks 18:45

2.Colony Domes 18:24


Junzo Suzuki - Guitars

Mike Vest - Bass & Mix

Dave Sneddon - Drums


I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Vest for a number of years now ever since I witnessed his most famous band BONG in concert. The music they perform still to this day blows my mind. From then on I’ve followed Mike’s creative outputs with interest from 11PARANOIAS and Blown Out. Mike can be described as a creative virtuoso as he has many more projects with some I dig and some perhaps not suited to my creative tastes. 

I’m interviewing Mike real soon and he sent a few albums my way that he’s been part of recently and this is the first one I’ve checked out - Mienakunaru. A Psych/Drone/Doom/Noise Rock band featuring Mike Vest, Dave Sneddon and Japanese Psych Rock legend Junzo Susuki. This album was recorded before Junzo’s unfortunate accident back in Feb 2022. More details below and how you can help with Junzo’s recovery and rehabilitation.

In early February 2022, Junzo fell from a train platform in Tokyo and was rendered unconscious. Junzo suffered intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He regained consciousness about nine days later and was moved to a rehabilitation hospital several weeks after.

All proceeds from the above compilation go towards Junzos rehabilitation.

Utech Records and UK artist and printmaker Simon Fowler have teamed up to offer a limited edition art print. This print is our way of honoring Suzuki Junzo and his music. Utech Records will donate all profits from the sale of the print to Junzo's recovery.

Purchase here:

When these three highly talented individuals get together then all sorts of magical weirdness happens especially if you dig Psychedelic Freakouts and huge sounding Trippy grooves with an element of distorted drone that allows each member to bring their own individual spark to the table.

Their new album Strato Arcology was released back in May 2022 and again in December 2022 as a remixed and extended edition. I’m reviewing the original studio release though I do prefer the remixed version a whole lot more. However, this album is still a spellbinding and chaotic journey into the darker depths of Instrumental Psych Rock. Spread across two tracks with each song lasting over eighteen minutes each.

Opening song Mega Blocks is a sprawling progressive journey where Mienakunaru explores the darker depths of Psych Rock with a nightmarish vision. The extended jams and grooves from master musician Junzo Susuki are perhaps the creative spark for all members to focus upon. As the grooves are long, vivid and vividly drawn out with Mike (Bass) and Dave (Drums) perhaps laying down the foundations with an epic back-line performance that can only be described as masterful. 

The Drone aspect of the song allows Mienakunaru to bring in other areas of music for a more vibrant and fuller sound. Mienakunaru draw upon areas from the last 50 years of the Hard Rock movement and give this a warped psychedelic makeover. 

Second song Colony Drones follows the same destructive path with Mienakunaru embracing a darker creative philosophy for their music. Mienakunaru play a more experimental sound with echoes of Drone, Doom, Post-Rock and Psych Rock are all powered with Junzo’s spectacular guitars with plenty of “Freak Out” moments along the way. The song does have a certain “SCI-FI” feel and could easily become the soundtrack to some beloved cult science fiction movie. As Mienakunaru makes music that’s equally CINEMATIC and absolutely BONKERS at the same time.

This album is mostly focused upon Improvisation and Experimental sounds which isn’t surprising considering the pedigree of the band members involved. However, Strato Arcology is most definitely a Stoner Rock album in my eyes. It feels like the distant and twisted relation to BONG. 

Mienakunaru won’t be for everyone as it’s perhaps too weird and out there for the “normal” underground scene. However, if you’re looking for something different and a record to test your musical patience then Strato Arcology is the album for you.

Strato Arcology is an unexpected delight and I implore you all to check this great album out now. 

Words by Steve Howe



You can buy Strato Arcology now on DD/Vinyl from the links below.

Echodelick Records (USA)

Riot Season Records (UK)