June 25, 2004

Acid Mothers Temple "Mantra of Love"

Japan's Acid Mothers Temple are a band so confounding that I won't even bother trying to describe them. Led by musical genius and spiritual leader Kawabata Makoto, the music defies all classification. Acid Mothers Temple have released some of the most beautiful--and the trippiest--psychedelic music of recent years, and this year's been no exception, with two records worth seeking out, because AMT are not just a band, they are a journey that you must prepare for. The fact that Makoto's prolific nature makes Robert Pollard pale in comparison is a fact that's paled by the frustrating reality of how quickly his limited edition releases disappear.

Their newest album--officially released and produced album, I should say--is Mantra of Love. Consisting of two very long songs, this album is a bit different in concept; with a focus on melody (but not at the sacrifice of their traditional space-rock freakout)-- it's as close to a 'love' album as you're gonna get from Acid Mothers Temple. With softer, gentler harmonies--offset by the beautiful singing of Cotton Casino--the half-hour "La Le Lo" is easily one of the band's most beautiful compositions. As usual, it goes from really soft, gentle singing to loud, trippy keyboards and screaming guitars and back again several times. There's a distinctive lovemaking feel to this song; if it's supposed to be an aural depection of sex, then Makoto and company have succeeded quite nicely. (Of course, where are the naked women he puts on his solo albums? I'd rather look at them than that whale head.) "L'Ambition dans le Miroir" is a fifteen-minute piece that's both weirder than and softer than "La Le Lo," and it once again features Casino's beautiful singing.

Unlike previous albums, Mantra of Love is a record that takes a little bit of time to appreciate. While it's true that Acid Mothers Temple make some really heavy music, the two songs found here are surprisingly light compared to their previous work. If you're expecting heavy guitar freakouts of In C or Electric Heavyland, then you're going to be slightly disappointed. After a few listens, though, Mantra of Love does grow on you--perhaps it's best consumed with someone that you want to be intimate with, because there's a definite passion undertone going on here.

Released earlier this year in limited edition form--yet still worth seeking out--is The Day Before The Sky Fell in America 9/10/01. It's exactly as it says--a recording from an instore performance on September 10, 2001. Much like Mantra of Love, this vinyl album consists of two very long songs. As perfect sound fidelity has never really been par for the course with Acid Mothers Temple, these two songs are quite beautiful; they range from soft and sedate to loud and noisy.In less capable hands, this kind of music might sound a bit shambly--if not falling apart entirely--but Acid Mothers Temple are not like us, and thus they can create magic. And yes, there is a weird, eerie and haunting feeling to these songs, thanks in part to what happened the next morning.

Acid Mothers Temple are not just a band, they are an experience. These two recordings may be brief on the surface, but they represent an artistic aesthetic that cannot be denied. You could ignore Acid Mothers Temple, but why would you want to?

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.acidmothers.com
Label Website: http://www.alien8recordings.com
Label Website: http://www.eclipse-records.com

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