Austin Psych Fest Live: Acid Mothers Temple
The insanely prolific Japanese ensemble Acid Mothers Temple built a reputation in underground circles for its improvisational take on both folk-rock and heavy psych. The former, however, was nowhere in evidence during the band’s sonic thunderstorm Friday night.
Guitarists Kawabata Makoto and Tabata Mitsuru, and bassist Tsuyama Atsushi built a massive wall of riffs, solos, and feedback, while electronicist Higashi Hiroshi shoehorned in bleeps and whooshes and drummer Shimura Koji manhandled any groove that wasn’t nailed down.
The quintet blasted off immediately via “Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky,” blowing ears back with a free jazz metal assault before settling into more conventional – though still loud and weird – acid rock. Some tense moments rose as Hiroshi tried to figure out why neither he nor the audience could hear his synthesizer, but problem resolution put the smile back on his grey-bearded face.
Of course, his instrument is mere ornamentation. Performances revolve around Mitsuru and band founder Makoto duking it out, six strings at a time. “Pink Lady Lemonade” and “Speed Guru” reveled in guitar overdrive.
The coup d’etat came during the penultimate “Cometary Orbital Drive,” as the band invited the Silver Apple himself, Simeon Coxe, to contribute to the din. Building from slow and spacey to ramming speed allowed the band to use momentum in demonstrating its true power. The energy rush was such that Makoto destroyed not one, but two of his Stratocasters during the denouement.
After that hellacious triumph, the only encore left was “La Novia,” an a cappella chant that drew on Japanese folk tradition and soothed the spent crowd’s mercilessly pounded cochlea.