Friday, 28 February 2014

Acid Mothers Temple

Acid Mothers Temple, that non-stop touring bunch of psychedelic gurus, announced the dates for their 2014 North American Tour today. These guys tour so much that one would think it would cut into their productivity. But it does not. Far from it, actually. They're one of the most prolific bands around. Discogs lists 76 releases from their Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO collective alone (this is the lineup that's touring this year) and even that is probably not a complete list. They also have about 10 other collectives - different incarnations of the band with varying lineups and styles of music - that have their own sets of releases.

I'm going to stick with The Melting Paraiso UFO here because that's the AMT I'm most familiar with. Their sound can be best described as psychedelic space-rock with heavy world music influences, sometimes veering into krautrock, free-jazz, and drone. With tracks that frequently stretch out into wild jams that are over 20, 30, 40 minutes long (at least one version of Pink Lady Lemonade crosses the one hour mark), this is music that is not for the casual listener. It requires one to surrender to it and to let it take you on a ride. That may sound like a lot, but trust me it's worth it. In one word, it is


I am listening to In O To ∞, their 2010 follow up to their cover of Terry Riley's In C,  for the first time as I write this and I must say I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. And while I may not be half agony, half hope like that Austen hero, and saying this record pierces my soul might seem a bit much, it is undeniably a trip and a half that demands complete attention. So -break-

Yeah, that was a most excellent album and I am wondering why it took me so long to get around to it. Quite the mix of musical styles there. I'll have to give it many more listens before I can attempt to describe it. I will say though that it ended on a surprisingly Boredoms-like note (another extraordinary Japanese band).

But stepping back in time a bit, let me tell you about an AMT album that I have more experience with - La Novia. Listening to La Novia, which is considered by many to be their definitive record, is quite a trip. It starts out as a Occitanian folk tune (go on, look it up), a meditative chant-like sing-song that briefly turns into a pastoral tune before switching to krautrock mode. But before one knows what hit one, it shapeshifts into a heady psychedelic rock beast that turns the brain into putty and then makes the most wondrous shapes out of it, briefly switching back to the original folk tune only to go crazy all over again. After nearly 40 glorious minutes, it quietly slips into soft acoustic strumming and fades away. And that's just the title track. It is followed by two more (shorter) tracks, which I'll leave you to discover for yourself.

All told though, AMT, as good as they are on record, are primarily a live band. One of the best live bands on this planet in my estimation, and you should take my word for it because I've seen more than my fair share of live shows. Be it Kawabata Makoto's masterful shredding and feedback swirling (the man is deemed a guitar god ffs) or Tsuyama Atsushi's hilarious banter which is by no means second to his bass playing (just listen to any live version of Pink Lady Lemonade where the guitar and bass essentially change roles), this is a band to be experienced live more than any other. Just remember to take ear plugs.

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