The terribly hip Japanese psych band Acid Mother's Temple are less than the sum of their parts. The group's heavy blow-out wash of high-volume, flanged and distorted rock is as predictable as it is enjoyable: a communal, overdrive freak-out.
But follow the family tree and there's more interesting branches to be found. Guitarist Kawabata Makoto's solo projects are generally dreamily provocative. He has been a member of Mainliner, a similarly heavy but more 4/4 group fronted by Asahito Nanjo (of High Rise) that has also included Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida. Kawabato also has a duo with bassist Atsushi Tsuyama (Omoide Hatoba, Pugs) called Zoffy, which is a more overt 60s send-up than AMT. Tsuyama usually plays with AMT, but was absent on this tour. His extracurricular activites include some great solo records and an endearing duo with Yoshida called Akaten.
The Japanese seem to have a thing for inventing and naming bands: Yoshida has done tours where three people (including Tsuyama) play as five different bands over the course of a night. More famously, Boredoms singer Yamatanka Eye and Shinro Ohtake from Juke 19 created 27 different bands between them for the first Puzzle Punks record. And so on.
So it was welcome news that the Acid Mothers Soul Collective tour would present other bands including members of the 30+ Acid Mothers camp.
The night opened with a set by Philadelphia's Fursaxa before the Temple took over. Fursaxa's hymnal might have done little to excite a sparse audience hungry for psychedelia-drenched Japanoise (especially after a transit strike prevented the AMT members from getting out of France in time for the previous night's show, their only other New York appearance), but she provided a suitably soft and serene introduction for the various trances (mystic, drunken and trippy) to be presented over the rest of the night. Accompanying herself on a reedy little organ or layering vocals over looped percussion tracks, she turned the Williamsburg rock club into a strange and introverted chapel during her brief set.
Kawabata then did a solo set, slowly building glaciers of sound, bowing his electric guitar and creating subtle, reverberating loops with his Boomerang effects unit. He eventually pushed the echoes into a pulse, and put a sheer noise on top of it, applying a bow and then a screwdriver to the strings before moving into slow Jerry Garcia-like leads (his weakness). He was briefly joined by Hiroshi (who played guitar and synthesizer on previous AMT tours) on his Roland.
Hiroshi's spacey synth segued nicely from Kawabata's traipse to the synth duo Pardon, with himself and AMT novelty Cotton Casino. Casino is a new member of the AMT cult, and might be the argument against the parts/whole argument. She took the stage wearing racing stripes and an enormous helmet, struck a few poses and guzzled her beer (with New York City's new no-smoking ordinance, it's a wonder she showed up at all), before throwing some jet streams and static eruptions over Hiroshi's ambient grind.
The entourage took a short break to break the mood and move from drone to drive, returning in power trio form as Tsurubami, with Kawabata on guitar, Hiroshimi on bass and a drummer named Emi. They pulled an all-out jam, no effects, no pretense, Kawabata leading them through free from, feedback, 4/4 and rapid fire before throwing their instruments on the stage and running off. It was similar to AMT proper, smaller and without the wah-wah. And if nothing else, it was a chance to hear Kawabata again. There's a bit of chaff around the Temple, but he is always worth notice.
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