Acid Mothers Temple


Good grief. Even the most seasoned gig-goer would be forgiven for taking an extra moment to process proceedings when Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (to give them their full title) roll into town. The veteran free-form progressive psychedelic experimental rock group, or as they would have it ‘soul collective’, returned to Manchester just as it was starting to recover from their last visit.

First though are Horrid, a Manchester-based group whose drone/noise rock tendencies make them a natural fit tonight. They play an unbroken 40-minute suite of music, all the while wearing face-obscuring wicker balaclavas. After a prolonged opening of ambient feedback loops, they steadily develop hypnotic rhythmic grooves, which eventually blossoms into a swaying, sexy underpinning to a very loud racket. The crowd are modest – sadly. The Ruby Lounge never fills out completely tonight – but after some trepidation, they’re soon helpless under Horrid’s sinister spell.

And so, Acid Mothers Temple. For the uninitiated, they have been performing under a range of names for around 20 years (although founder Makoto Kawabata has been in bands since the 70s), and have something in the region of 70 albums to their name. Writing a single for the radio doesn’t interest them; rather, they are in pursuit of what Kawabata calls ‘trip music’ – a heady mix of hard rock, electronics, ancient folk and Indian classical music, and even on record their tracks rarely dip under 15 minutes in duration. Live, it’s even wilder. Within seconds, Kawabata is flailing his guitar up and down his body, and his four bandmates are soon to follow.

By the nature of their output, it is not easy to identify track titles. On only one occasion does the opening of a piece draw a reaction – ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ from an album made in 2008. Its circular guitar riff and sci-fi synths make it one of the night’s lighter moments (this is all relative), and easily the most accessible. Elsewhere, the drums rock extremely hard, and deliver bursts of energy when necessary (credit to the tireless Shimura Koji), and the guitars make an ear-bursting fuzz. Long-time member and bassist Tsuyama Atsushi takes on primary vocal duties, at one stage taking us on a historical voyage to 2000 years ago, when humans first learned to eat other animals (at least that’s what I heard), before whipping out a primary school recorder to make some piercing shrieks, only to switch back to bass for the kind of solo that John Entwistle could but dream. You get the idea.

The finest, shreddiest, most cacophonous highs are saved for the climax, where the tempo accelerates to the point where it no longer seems to exist, and everything becomes a single surging, pulsing mass of noise. Some people stagger away, looking quite unwell, others cling to the barrier, praying for more. For Acid Mothers Temple, it’s just another night.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.