Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple turn disco. Martin Longley is shocked and excited in equal measure.
Acid Mothers Temple
Acid Mothers Temple can be creatures of habit. In several cities, they often return to the same venue each time they tour. Also, their highly specific orientation towards extreme freak-out psychedelia has the effect of assuring an audience that certain exotic and abandoned Japanese goods will be delivered.
For their Birmingham show, both of these promises are fulfilled, but there is another element arriving, a factor of profound surprise. Maybe it’s the presence of newer, younger bass and drum members, or maybe just a spontaneous hallucinogenic combustion, but this set swings open its portals to the possibility of funk, and even disco, pulsating underneath the expected guitar eruptions and synthesiser ruptures.
This is most strikingly apparent during Pink Lady Lemonade, the tune that absolutely always appears right at the heart of each AMT performance. Usually, it will build up slowly around a repeating guitar spangle, gaining pace and density over its epic length.
This time around, all of this still happened, but over a steadily intensifying disco bounce. This was no dilution, and didn’t interfere with leading guitarist Kawabata Makoto ascending to his accustomed pinnacle of sonic revelation, but it did have the advantage of insinuating an unfamiliar aspect of uncompromising glitterball celebration to the tripped-out vision.
The AMT set-list has also undergone quite radical change, with a clutch of unfamiliar numbers, mostly infused with the funk, even if persistently dislodged by Higashi Hiroshi’s untamed electronics. As a shocking contrast, he gets completely rustic, blowing harmonica in a sparse space-blues ritual stretch, a midway detour that acts as a volume-pause before the Makoto guitar escalations resume.
Besides the orgiastic core psychedelics, the AMT have always provided excursions into folkloric weirdness, cosmic whispering, blues rollin’ and, now, disco-funk, all the better to strengthen the power of the freak-out, when it inevitably rears up once again. This was one of the AMT’s more unhinged, and primally sustained journeys…
Photo: Vera Marmelo