Saturday, 12 November 2011

Acid Mothers Temple - Auntie Annie's, Belfast

Driving guitar noodles built around a single chord, aural landscapes layered in real time, bird calls, manic chuckles and all-out over-the-top explosive guitar.
An evening in the company of Acid Mother's Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO takes you through gently nodding, hypnotic trance to moments when, if you’re that way inclined, you can headbang your way into head-rush ecstasy.
Yet somehow in the middle of the sonic chaos that they are producing the band members seem to be just outside of it all, gently swaying during even the most feedback driven frenzies.
This laidback attitude was evident from the point of entry into the upstairs venue at Auntie Annie’s in Belfast's Dublin road where drummer Shimura Koji and guitarist/synthesizer (and according to the album notes on their latest album) dancing king Higashi Hiroshi, sprawled at the door beside a table laid out with a dozen or so albums, including their just released The Ripper At the Heavens Gate of Dark.
Lead guitarist and band founder Kawabata Makoto was also wandering round with a glass of red wine in his hand being ignored, or perhaps simply unfazed, by those who had paid to see him play.
The audience of a 100 or so mixed serious musos, people about town, students, hippies, metallers, grunge kids - nearly all male.
The band ambled on stage and spent about 10 minutes messing around with equipment before Hiroshi began twiddling his keyboard to produce those '50s B-movie sci-fi screeches which somehow define AMT's 'space rock' credentials.
The Led Zepplinesque Chinese Flying Saucer from their new album was given a good 10-minute workout, allowing Makoto to flay at his guitar while not seeming to move very much.
Hiroshi seemed to sway, as if slightly out of time - not in rhythmical sense but as if he was in fact chronologically out of time, in a different dimension - to the frantic rhythms in whose production he was taking part.
Bassist Tsuyama Atsushi took on most of the lead vocals and, from where I was, seemed to be in control of the loop programme that allowed the band to record different noises, both vocal and instrumental, that were then banked and replayed and added to, to create an aural collage over which hypnotic guitar and bass riffs were laid.
Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix all suggested themselves as big time influences (tracks on the new album include Back Door Man of Ghost Rails, Shine On You Crazy Dynamite and Electric Death Manta, the clues are writ large for those who don't twig on musically).
Yet there is also something indefinable about AMT, I hate to say it, but a Zen-like quality, a musical Koan in which the absurdity of the sonic chaos and apparent stillness of the band shocks the audience in to a state of enlightenment.
Or maybe, as for the two headbangers who spent much of the evening in front of the stage, it was just pure kick-ass metal to swing your head to and occasionally raise a single-fingered insult towards the band.
If I was writing this review as a Haiku it would read:
Loud guitars screeching
reeds in rivers sway.
Acid Mothers Temple.

2 comments:

Fionnchú said...

I cannot afford all their CDs, on various and obscure and foreign labels, as either Melting Paraiso or Cosmic Inferno, but I like AMT! Great range of sounds, clever homages without being rip-offs. Recommended from my short shelf of their many recordings are their takes on Occitan music, as in La Novia, and on Terry Riley's In C [etc.], and this Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, speaking of incantatory chants. In eerie Jungian synchronicity, I wrote a student today citing Jung's inscriptions from his Bollingen Tower, inspired by a citation from my reading of Murakami's "IQ84" review, in turn connected with a book I finished moments ago on Nichiren Buddhism, which is the heart of the chant AMT makes on their hour-long album...

Tony Bailie said...

Wao... synchronicity overdrive. I read your review of 1Q84 and have to say I am tempted to start in to it, but will wait until next year. I have three AMT albums, I bought the new one at the gig and have been playing it constantly ever since. Put me in a prog-rock mindset – Dzyan, Soft Machine and back to Hawkwind and Frank Zappa.