Last Exit to Houston

Acid Mothers Temple Travels to New Dimensions of Sound

Acid Mothers Temple
May 13, 2014

If hallucinogenic rock and roll coupled with Mount Everest-sized feedback and noise slightly excites your interest, then Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. was the cult of choice Wednesday night at Fitzgerald’s. Invoking John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and early Pink Floyd, the second-loudest show of 2015 happily deafened and delighted the faithful 50-plus who breathed in the clamor and cacophony (A Place to Bury Strangers still holds the title of 2015's loudest performance.)

Wednesday, the five piece collective traveled in between dimensions of sound. The white-bearded Higashi Hiroshi summoned sounds from his Roland keyboard like a venerable sorcerer. Tsuyama Atsushi plucked, fingered, and devastated the bass guitar as he sung in pitches resembling the chordal intonations of Gito monks. Satoshima Nani pushed seismic rhythms of terror out of his hands and feet. Moments of levity were brief. They droned in and out of Sun Ra cosmic landscapes before discovering their own terrain.

Performing in support of their new album, Benzatien, the narrative-less show featured the title track from their album, showcasing heavy riffology interspersed with structural collapse of the song. Atsushi picked up a recorder and played sweet nature sounds while Hiroshi mimicked them on his synth. Atsushi simulated nature sounds in place of singing, whistling and making tongue clacking sounds. Psychedelic hand motions with fingers curling between feedback pitches before the band regained its focus and closed “Benzatien” with the opening riff.

If there was a moment of normalcy, “Pink Lady Lemonade” featured Acid Mother Temples' ability to construct saccharine sweet melodies. The crowd took full advantage of this eye-of-the-hurricane moment, pleased with the familiar psychedelic-pop terrain made famous by Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators. But that honeyed moment turned bitter too soon. “Pink Lady Lemonade” segued into “Om Riff,” a song that droned to accompany the bellowed chant. Hiroshi assumed vocal duties until other members of the band ecstatically joined him in bidding aliens to return and whisk the band, and audience, off of this god-forsaken planet.

Acid Mothers Temple closed with the otherworldly — the understatement of the year — “Cometary Orbital Drive.” The trance-inducing track was more adventure than song. It orbited for nearly an hour, yet the audience was no worse for wear. Strains of melodies chained together in unison pressed onward, revealing sonic somnambulism interwoven with bursts of metronomic beats. The song vanished in moments, the same theme repeated throughout like a determined prayer. Remarkably, the thematic riff never wavered. Neither did the audience’s attention.

It is too easy to minimize this band's music as psychedelic or experimental. Certainly, they take risks in ways that other bands would never dare. However, Wednesday night’s performance not only revealed a daring display of sonic rapture, but the hope to inspire other bands to push themselves to places where failure might emerge.

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Stephan Wyatt