Acid Mothers Temple – An helterskelter ride with Neal Cassidy at the controls of our Merry Prankster bus ride as we get to the bottom and we go back to the top and Kerouac couldn’t hack this trip man because you can’t travel through space man, you can’t travel through space without fractions and… and… I don’t like hiding in this foliage and peat, it’s wet and I’m losing my body heat and… and…. Blue Cheer playing Cochran …. They can come on the Bus but all that weak sauce…all that Ginsberg and beatnik shit man…. That ain’t Electric Saki Acid test territory. That’s no Alan Vega, Kesey and Thompson in a Silver Machine trip! We only ride with the freaks, maaaan!
Holy Mother of stream of consciousness cultural referencing Christ.
I would apologise for the blaspheming but I can’t. This phrase sums up what I have just witnessed. Tonight I sit here with a psychedelic pathway steamrollered right the way through me. I have 60s psychedelia mixed with Krautrock bouncing around my head.
Many know Stourbridge for it’s past glories which I would hope that I do not need to list here. They are many and may indeed fall into ‘past glory’ territory, but Stourbridge has never completely lost it’s Bohemian, artistic and Black Country hip feel. Here today is a centre for that Bohemianism and it’s beating heart is the beauty that is a closed down MacDonalds ‘restaurant’, converted into a chip wood venue, hanging basket and shabby chic decor art space. It is an important place for many in Stourbridge and recent names such as Mark Morris, British Sea Power and Monochrome Set have stepped over it’s threshold. Tonight though feels… different? Post past-glory glorious anyone?
Stourbridge, that out laying area of the Black Country, has without doubt, witnessed something special tonight. Kawabata Makoto brought here, his, or more appropriately, they brought their collective band to lay waste to our minds. When I say collective I mean that in the sense of the classical hippy term, for the members of the band partly form an extended family of musicians, artists, farmers, fishermen and travellers. A mushroomy version of the Sun Ra Arkestra, whose drone and wigged out noise can lock you into a trip where the controls are set for the heart of Alpha Centuri with no toilet breaks.
We, without tickets, queue outside “Scarycanary” waiting for the doors to open. The close to capacity ticket sales mean we are added to the standby list. The bands are still in the process of sound checking and no entrance is allowed until they are done so drinks are taken in a nearby hostelry and once stamped and in we realise that we have missed the first support, COLOSSLOTH. I am annoyed at myself for not getting advance tickets as I was looking forward to hear his LICHENS meets THROBBING GRISTLE electonic/noise experiments. I apologise to said artist!
We do however catch the main support, local band, THE DOMESDAY OUTFIT who mix surf, blues and hints of what I can only describe as a Southern rock version of the FOO FIGHTERS. They entertain the crowd of partisan locals and out of town strangers with ease, throwing in elements of Hendrix; the drummer and bassist as well as guitarist though, as the rhythm section come across all Mitch Mitchell and Buddy Miles on a couple of occasions. In fact, did I hear “Machine Gun” at one point? Band of Gypsies indeed! Excellent openers. In fact my companion did say after that he would have paid to see them alone.
Acid MotherTemple take to the stage, preparing their instruments, as a lone voice yells from the crowd, “We love you AMT”. Kawabata replies with a smile and a softly spoken sincere thanks that belies the noise that is about to answer for the rest of the band. I don’t know their songs, there is no set list stuck to the stage and their back catalogue is too large to try to work out what they played. What I do know is that the noise emanating from the theremin like electronic kit in front of Higashi Horoshi is a joy to hear, and one which he concentrates on summoning from some other world like the long haired grey wizard that he looks.
Kawabata Makoto stands to the side grooving on his own guitar lines that merge into the second guitarist’s lines. At times it is difficult to see/hear where the distinction between them lays. The bass is an out and out psychedelic jazz workout; one minute laying down a groove, the next, fluid and flowing under the wall of sound. The drummer is special. I know that he has been involved heavily in the Japanese punk scene but this is something different entirely. It is the latter day jazz of Crass’ Penny Rimbaud meets the offbeat snappy vocal drumming of the Magic Bands John French. A late on tune sees him playing the classic hi-hat and snare beat of funk underneath the rest of the bands often atonal extended groove drones, driving the rest of the band onwards. It successfully gets the audience moving too as we fall into step with the sound as it speeds on, like a sonic rush pulling in all that it passes, relentlessly on to who knows where.
Their influences seem to come from a variety sources and it leaves you grasping at times, trying to fingertip a hook into them. The bass heavy rock of Blue Cheer? The speedy space rock of Hawkwind? The Krautrock of Neu? A tiny hint of he boogie blues of Canned Heat? Then, the one track of theirs that I do know suddenly hits me like a cartoon frying pan! ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ plays around a theme, based almost entirely on one of John Lydon’s finest moments – ‘Poptones’, before exploding into a guitar laden blistering wall of sound. The influences are like an old fashioned radio, flashes of familiar songs coming and going out of the static.
Then, suddenly the set is over. No encores, no big farewells. The sonic rush drops us and speeds on through the ether, leaving us breathless and maybe wanting to be taken with them, wherever they are heading.
I make no apologies for my earlier language. This was a gig that felt like a headlong rush through all those cultural references at the head of this review and when it finished, I was left me speechless.
Best gig of the year.
Review: Mark Veitch
Photograph – copyright James Butroid