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Acid Mothers Temple Bring A Psychedelic Return To The Northwest

Kawabata Makoto in Vancouver, B.C.
Kawabata Makoto in Vancouver, B.C.
Jack Gold-Molina

Live rock concert


Friday May 9 through Monday May 12, Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. brought their own diverse brand of psychedelic experimental rock from Japan to the Northwest playing shows in Portland, Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, and Boise. The band, consisting of five members: Kawabata Makoto – guitar and voice; Tabata Mitsuru - guitar and voice; Tsuyama Atsushi - bass, flute and voice; Higashi Hiroshi - synth and voice; and Shimura Koji - drums, performed music from their extensive catalog with the set lists potentially varying each night of their 35-date tour of the United States and Canada in support of their recent vinyl LP and CD release Astrorgasm Of The Inner Space. For example, the set list in Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle was the same except that in Seattle, despite a blistering show, there was no encore. In other cities like New York, Minneapolis or Chicago, the band included songs that weren’t played in either Vancouver or Seattle.

The Vancouver, B.C. set at the Media Club began with a chaotic intro, feedback and disorder, then the band started into "Chinese Flying Saucer" from their 2011 album The Ripper At The Gates Of Heaven’s Dark. With the opening chords of the mid-tempo rocker, Atsushi sang in a kind of pseudo-rap and after the tune’s second break, Makoto soloed fully out front, skillfully navigating his fret board with speed and fluidity. Following the chorus the tune came to a stop as Atsushi took a bass solo, then it changed to a straight ahead upbeat jam. Makoto soloed off of Hiroshi’s wailing, cascading synth, Koji riffing on his snare and toms and driving the time, then the interlude was brought to an end in chaos before the band started back into the main theme of the song, ending after the final run through its chorus.

The second tune was also based around a mid-tempo riff. Hiroshi’s synth led into Makoto’s soloing, Atsushi vocalizing with Mitsuru. The synth cascaded behind the vocals, over Mitsuru’s rhythm guitar, while Makoto manipulated tone and feedback. Atsushi sang while improvising a line up and down the neck of his bass, Makoto soloing, seeking and finding places while tearing at his tremolo bar, playing off of Hiroshi’s synth.

The intensity of the music decreased while Koji worked out patterns on his toms, the band leading out of time into experimental improvisation, then Makoto began the opening chords of "Pink Lady Lemonade," Koji laying into the opening drum riff to start the tune. Atsushi soloed on his bass as the melody alternated in and out of standard time, then Makoto opened up with a blazing guitar solo, executing tremolo dives and improvising off of the melody with reverb saturated feedback. The rhythm stopped, Makoto and Atsushi soloing together with an improvisation, then the band started into the upbeat, intense "OM Riff," Atsushi and Mitsuru invoking forces of darkness and shadow and energies of light in an ancient Pagan chant, Makoto playing the reverb-laden melody. Makoto soloed, increasingly raising the intensity, and then sent the tune over into chaos to close it. As the melee of sound settled, Makoto began the intro to "Pink Lady Lemonade" again, Koji playing the opening drum riff, and the band started back in as Makoto led into another blazing solo, finally ending the tune with overdrive and feedback.

Makoto began "Cometary Orbital Drive" quietly with volume and tonal layering, lightly picking the strings of his Stratocaster in a guitar improvisation, the synth and bass joining in, the guitar awash with tone. Makoto slowly introduced the melody with his volume work, a melody that has been used for centuries in rituals of acoustic magic and has been said to create resonance waves deep inside the brain to awaken the second mind that is dormant behind our consciousness.

Koji started into a laid back rhythm on the drums, and as Makoto picked up the melody with Koji’s groove, Mitsuru fluidly improvised guitar leads off of him, creating the powerful hypnotic trance feel of the tune. As the band shifted into straight ahead rock time the melody took over, the tempo increasing with the echoing cascades of Hiroshi’s synth. The tune lifted off of the ground like a mother ship as the tempo increased, gradually becoming faster and more intense. Atsushi played solo patterns on his bass and as the tempo continued to increase, strummed chords, the distortion in Makoto’s guitar getting heavier. As the tempo got faster the tune became more hypnotic, and the room in Vancouver filled with the power and intensity of sound as though it would transport the listener to another place. The melody finally became dissonant and Makoto broke into soloing as the tempo continued to increase, Hiroshi’s synth cascading and echoing, propelling the music into the outer reaches of space and time. The tempo stabilized at speed, Koji riffing on his snare to nearly send the tune over, and then the tempo began to steadily increase again with Makoto soloing underneath Hiroshi’s cascading synth wails. The music then began to deconstruct, breaking apart like concrete, Makoto arcing his tremolo bar, melting away the musical structure, and the tune ended in a burnt offering of guitar feedback, Makoto hanging his Stratocaster upside down from the ceiling above his Marshall amp stack before the band left the stage.

The packed Vancouver house erupted and after several moments the band came back out, Makoto pulling his guitar from the ceiling to begin "Dark Star Blues." Following Mitsuru and Makoto’s opening guitar chords, Koji laid into his drum kit and the band started the tune off, Atsushi vocalizing and Hiroshi wailing with his echoing synth. Makoto soloed against Koji who was riffing while keeping the time solid, and the tune suddenly shifted to intense, upbeat odd time, Makoto’s soloing gaining in intensity. Hiroshi’s synth echoed into the stratosphere while Koji worked his toms to push the tune into chaos, suddenly bringing it to a stop, then launching it back into fast odd time, finally sending it back into chaos to end the tune and bring the performance, and the evening, to a close.

Sources: Liner notes on Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O., IAO Chant From The Melting Paraiso Underground Freak Out, Cometary Orbital Drive To 2199.