- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
When it comes to psychedelia Acid Mothers Temple are something of an institution. Formed in the mid-nineties and led by guitarist Kawabata Makoto, the Japanese experimentalists have remained an essential presence in the ever-bustling world of psychedelic-rock for 23 years. Last year’s Reverse of Rebirth in Universe revealed a band still very much at the top of their game.
Before Makoto and Co take to the stage we’re introduced to Leeds-based act, Amon Acid. You can probably tell from the name that the band drink from a similarly psychedelicized cup as tonight’s headliners. Smoke and sci-fi sound effects set the stage before vocalist/ guitarist/ keyboardist Sarantis unleashes a crushing desert-rock riff and the trip begins in earnest.
The band’s sound incorporates the aforementioned heavy riffs while also exploring the Eastern-scales through immersive, groove-led jams. Chant-like incantations and sampled flutes add to the atmosphere as bassist Briony draw us further in. The band only formed last year yet we’re presented with a sound both fresh and accomplished. Something for your mind and something for your soul.
Acid Mothers Temple aren’t the kind of band to do things by halves. Here psychedelia doesn’t just mean using a whammy pedal or playing homage to decades past; the band offer up a thrillingly uncompromised and wholly immersive experience. In other words, it’s time to strap yourself in tight.
Makoto takes to the stage alongside synth/keyboardist and “noodle god” Higashi Hiroshi, bouzouki master Jyonson Tsu, groove-god/ bassist Wolf (a.k.a. S/T) and wildman drummer extraordinaire Satoshima Nani. These are names that should go down in the annals of rock. Carved into the great stone tablets of psychedelia for all to see. This band, this line-up, are utterly incredible.
The show starts with a frenzied, discordant blast of noise before dropping out into a slower, doom-laden groove. Hiroshi motions to the sound-desk to turn up the volume. It’s so loud that it’s completely overwhelming. There’s no casual observers at AMT gig. No talking at the back. You’re either in for the long haul or out the door in the opening few minutes.
The slower groove gives way and we’re thrown into the bouzouki-riff madness of ‘Dark Star Blues’, complete with otherworldly vocals from Tsu. The band’s noodling, experimental excesses balanced out with their ability to rock like madmen. Nani goes full ‘Animal from the Muppets’ as he crashes through every song with a mixture of jazz-like improv and fierce, hard-hitting power.
This is deeply experimental music yet it feels explosive, exciting and unpredictable. The band aren’t here for you to marvel at how interesting their time-signatures are; they’re here to knock your socks off.
Rather than a set of concise, clearly structured songs, AMT take us down a much more sprawling and exploratory route. The songs acting as long, ritualistic meditations. Chaotic passages pummel us. Grooves go on indefinitely. Everything is played to within an inch of its life, played until you can’t think of anything else. Played until you surrender to the sound.
‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ may very well go on for half an hour or so. I’m not entirely sure. An instrumental that moves between beauty, euphoria and madness. The repetition bringing on a hypnotic, transcendental, state. It’s moments like this that you can’t recreate at home, the power of a band in full-flight. It’s absolutely staggering.
The final ‘song’ finds bassist Wolf shaking his ass at us as he dances around the front of the stage, the band kicking into one last propulsive groove. Yes, they’re definitely having fun up there. Thankfully, we are too. By this point I’m doing the old eye’s closed shuffle dance, happily lost in the music.
Self-indulgent? Sure. Mind-blowing? You bet! It’s reassuring to know that Acid Mothers Temple are out there keeping things loud, weird and thoroughly psychedelic.