Acid Mothers Temple @ Mama Roux’s, Digbeth, 17th October 2017

Last year around this time I saw the groove monster that is Acid Mothers Temple on my doorstep in Stourbridge. You can read that review on BrumLive, a review which was written within an hour after the gig with more than a couple of beers inside me, just to see how blown away I was. It was probably the gig of 2016 for me and I needed to get it down in words as quickly as I could. I felt like a mescaline and amphetamine fuelled pastiche of Hunter S Thompson as the words scatter-gunned from my mind. To say I was impressed by these guys would be a bold understatement.

So here I was again, this time visiting a new venue to me; the rather fabulous Mama Roux’s in Digbeth, the host to this gig by those wandering minstrels of Japanese space-groove-rock, Acid Mothers Temp to give them their full moniker. The venue is excellent and with it’s psychedelic projected visuals drifting across the walls it reminds me of The Pigeon Toed-Orange Peel Club. Those of a certain age may know what I mean. The bar staff fail to enamour quite as much initially, as I appear to be an inconvenience to them. Staff later in the evening redeem themselves and leave me wanting a quick return trip to Mamas!

The band are taking to the stage as I take my position among a rather Flotsam and Jetsam looking audience – bikers mix with a couple of old punker types mix with geeky rock kids mix with…. a long-haired man in a kaftan and face paint!!!

The band strike the first notes and drop straight into it; their first groove, their first spaced out wig out, their first of many solid bass and flailing arm sixties styled rock drum led juggernaut of an instrumental rumble. The audience are immediately on side. I suspect many have witnessed these before. I suspect that they have that kind of effect; see them once, come back for more. However, I suspect that the size of the audience will struggle to grow, with many of those here having struggled to entice others to follow. Listen to the records and most would not “get it”. Experience it live and you would have to be impassive to anything but the bland of mainstream for it to move you.

Instrumental after instrumental, with the occasional chant like vocal thrown in, merges into one. I still cannot name more than a couple of tracks but that seems an irrelevance. Words are unnecessary to the hypnotic and sometime drone of each tune as it builds into a climax. Imagine standing on a runway as a jumbo jet long in the distance rumbles from standstill to jumbo take-off speed over a good length of time and then continues to accelerate as it lifts, still some way off. Then as it goes overhead and a sonic boom hits you. Imagine the Holy Shit! moment as you ask yourself WTF was that as it morphs from jumbo into space rocket and just keeps on keeping on. Now that isn’t just an ATM set…. it’s also each tune. One after another they build into a crescendo yet together they form a bigger sonic orgasm.

It’s Kraut rock and early Public Image Limited (I know, I used that reference in a previous review, but I stand by it) yet this gig… it seems more. Add in some supreme drumming that is straight out of the Mitch Mitchell and Keith Moon school of controlled chaos yet with metronomical accuracy. Add in some theremin craziness and some ripping fretwork and you have something close to an idea of their sound.

Their opus, “Cometary Orbital Drive”, clocking in at around the fifteen minute mark with a four minute intro, showcases all those references and then some. Tight funk hi-hat drumming with mini waves of repetitive guitar lines builds to a wall of sound whilst theremin whale-song punctuates throughout. A breather allows it to gather its strength for a push on to the magnificent crescendo.

If two songs could sum up a set by this band then it’s the aforementioned tune and “Pink Lady Lemonade”. The guitar theme, straight from PIL is the instant hook here. This set fave probably equals “Cometary Orbital Drive” in time although it doesn’t feel that way when you’re listening to it. Let it wash over you, the hands of time will still be there to confirm it after it is over. .

If you are the kind of music lover who has the patience to let a song build and evolve, if you are able to pick up musical themes hidden down there in the chaos, if you can appreciate soundtracks and if disorder appeals as much as structure then you will surely appreciate these guys.

Maybe it’s a Japanese band thing because two bands that have truly blown me away over the last year have been Qujaku and the mighty Acid Mothers Temple. Sublime!

Review: Mark Veitch

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