Acid Mothers Temple And The Cosmic Inferno
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It’d be easy to think of Acid Mothers Temple, here performing as Acid Mothers Temple & The Cosmic Inferno, that their well-known theatrics were in some way fabricated. Outwardly, this could be substantiated by a number of elements. One of the ensemble tonight is, essentially, the Japanese Rick Wakeman in his Merlin guise. Collective leader Kawabata Makoto skulks around the venue like an angry Wampa in a bearskin waistcoat. The music itself (in this incarnation, anyhow) is in much debt to Hawkwind, Sun-Ra and various other luminaries of experimental freak-psyche heritage. Even the bassist wears an Acid Mothers t-shirt, usually the preserve of prog bands taking in the third reunion tour. Together, the music they play quashes any vestige of inauthenticity – this band truly exists to freak everyone out.
What is most impressive in their mammoth two-hour set is that not once is becoming bored an issue. Their music is, on record, essentially a series of motifs with elaborate musical augmentations repeated, heightened, slackened or whatever to give shape. Live, this would usually result in accusations of wanky self-indulgence, but because each of the five people on stage appears to exist only to play this music rather than make Gary Moore sex faces over it, it becomes full-blooded and entertaining. Simple, well-balanced riffs are flung around for twenty minutes at a time, J-Rick the wizard is channelling some kind of whirring dragonfly from his surprisingly tiny keyboard and almost stealing the limelight… it’s a ridiculous but completely heartening sight. Rather than music of aggression, this is music of momentum.
Tides of inescapable noise tumble at the crowd followed by necessary moments of comparative calm and reflection. Makoto is an astonishing virtuoso, playing most of the time with his guitar strap dangling at his hips while he points his axe to the ceiling and wrangles the most unimaginable melodic leaps. At one point, one drummer (there are two) is introduced as being Pika from noisy blues-pop legends Afrirampo, which then sets off a possibly-improvised section of free-form noodlings on only her name. She squeals it quite violently while the rest of the band mumbles it, quite in the manner of a Berio sequenza or a Chris Morris musical piss-take, depending on your tolerance levels. This continues for quite some time before another of those cataclysmic riffs begins and progresses to shattering oblivion. Again, momentum is controlled with extreme care and excellent results.
Finishing with ‘IAO Chant From The Cosmic Inferno’ (originally a 50-minute-plus opus released as a one-track album – surely the only time where a psychedelic act has shortened their music for the live arena), and everyone on stage doing just that, enjoying every syllable of the colossal and surprisingly tricksy main motif. That this song ends with the sweatiest wizard in the world swirling his matted grey locks around his head while Kawabata Makoto attaches his guitar to the ceiling with the tremolo arm and continues to strum it is, by this point, of no great surprise, but still a hilariously engaging way to climax. Novelty-lovers beware – an army of evidence supports AMT’s claim to psychedelic divinity.