Sunday, May 24, 2015

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - 2000 - Troubadours From Another Heavenly World

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.
Troubadours From Another Heavenly World

01. Heroin Heroine's Heritage (20:58)
02. She Is a Rainbow in Curved Air (5:45)
03. Acid Heart Mother (32:28)

- Cotton Casino / vocal, synthesizer
- Tsuyama Atsushi / bass, acoustic guitar, vocal
- Koizumi Hajime / drums
- Higashi Hiroshi / synthesizer
- Emi Nobuko / drums
- Haco / vocals
- Ginestet Audrey / cosmic voice
- Kawabata Makoto / electric guitars, violin, organ, synthesizer, bass

If what you most are drawn to in Acid Mothers Temple music is "Psycho Buddha", their debut album, or "Electric Heavyland" then this is not the disc for you. It is much mellower fare, and as such seems to have less power to startle and enchant than other releases. It sounds far more derivative of its acid rock forebears, and therefore less original than other music by Acid Mothers Temple.
That said, if you're looking for is an extended nod-fest outside of trance music, this is a good place to start. As a side note, though, when the reviewer below remarks that the titles belie the band's influences, the influence is more of philosophy, musical approach and spiritual attitude than direct musical quotation. In other words, while there are spots that one could call Floydian (only because you're looking for Floydian bits), there's really very little resemblance at all.
"Heroin Heroine's Heritage", at 21 minutes, opens the album. A comparatively underdriven guitar saw fuzzes away, but instead of the usual explosion of sound one's come to expect, the music actually drifts into a rather minimalist groove, performed with more reverb than a small country has in its entirety, with Cotton Casino's typical ethereal, slightly-off-key crooning. Around four minutes into the piece, Kawabata unleashes one of his growling, wailing guitar solos of divine enlightenment, though again with the amplifier turned way down from where he usually sets it. The whole piece is very minimalist compared to AMT's norm, but the tons of reverb don't let the spareness of the music become merely cerebral sounding, or dry or (most importantly) hopelessly boring. Around minute 11, things fatten up a bit with keyboards and Kawabata's messier and a-bit-noisier solo that builds to a big, swirling wash of guitar. The piece then seems to get a bit too meandering, with slowly moving walls of sound to end it.
"She is a Rainbow in Curved Air", at a mere 6 minutes, is the little sibling to the bigger kids around it. If I had to liken it to a Floyd song, it would be "Granchester Meadow", amped up slightly and played in a resoundingly echoing cave. Essentially, it is an acoustic piece for guitar accompanied, almost irritatingly, by a ceaseless, reedy whine (oboe-like, perhaps it's a shanai), and the obligatory, spaced-out female vocals. Largely a one chord wonder, it pretty much just lazily moves right along from beginning to end with only very slight variations.
"Acid Heart Mother", at 32.5 minutes long, begins with an unearthly "windy moor" noise and a woman, panned from side to side, mumbling in a foreign tongue. As a kind of invocation, it is effective in setting the mood for the piece proper, which enters slowly on a quiet, handsome bass and organ line, backed by what sounds like air constantly rushing through a Japanese flute. Kawabata's guitar then sneaks up, unsuspected, hyperreverbed but still more restrained than usual, as the whole mix comes up in volume as well. After a bit of maundering around through a light chord progression, the band steps off into an enormous abyss, still without resorting to their usual volume, and the guitar solo is gorgeous, the sound immense...the whole thing melts into an ocean of white noise, and then the guitar comes rising up out of it again with another gorgeous line. The maundering chords then return around minute 14, building to something of a climax, before relaxing back down to a very minimalist (but still reverbedly rich) section, with breathing keyboards, guitar accents and dreamy vocal crooning. Complete chaos breaks the spell at 20 minutes, as a grandiose, finale-type theme with vocals morphs into a roiling steamscape of churning white noise that sounds like a musical windstorm, with drums and nearly inaudible vocals mixed in. You might think a windstorm wouldn't be too interesting to listen to, but this one is, and all the more so as you try to decide "who is playing what here?" Almost 7 minutes later, the storm passes and what sounds like a less trite reprise of "She is a Rainbow in Curved Air" begins to usher in the end of the piece, which is simply an electronic note, sustained for 2 minutes.
The two things that especially set this spacey rock apart from its Western inspirations are the amount of reverb and the fact that the music, even when improvised, does not gravitate around the blues, which is the normal backbone for space-jams. The tons of reverb (and other effects of course) make even the mellowest sections seem fat and dripping with music. It's no accident that the full name of the band is Acid Mothers Temple and the MELTING Paraiso UFO (Underground Freak Out); the way the sounds tend to blur and melt into one another definitely seems like a deliberate musical principle on the player's part, and not just a consequence of what effects they use for their instruments.
The trips on this disc are much more conventionally trippy than others by the same band, but if you can set that expectation aside (or have none in advance), with the exception of the middle song, this is an original, often impressive and ultimately groovy piece of work.