Acid Mothers Temple

Have You Seen the Other Side of the Sky

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They're b-a-a-a-a-ck. After a lengthy hiatus in which Makoto Kawabata and mates formed the heavy duty rock-in-your-face unit Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno (partially to regroup after the departure of chief vocalist and synth-crazy Cotton Casino), Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. return with new vocalist Nao. Confused yet? The big difference between the two bands is that the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. version is a much more spaced-out psychedelic outfit. There are some changes such as the addition of saxophonist/flutist Ono Ryoko to the mix, adding the element of free jazz improvisation to the sonic equation. Kawabata is still chief guitar shaman in the outfit, of course, and its spiritual leader. The music on these five cuts is mind-boggling, freaked-out fun and beauty. The loopy intro ends up in the completely extrasensory guitar assault that is "Attack from Planet Hattifatteners," and it's obvious that the re-formation of this band is no fluke. What happens over the next two cuts is completely unexpected: both "Buy the Moon of Jupiter" and "Asimo's Naked Breakfast: Rice and Shrine" are acoustically based cuts, with flutes, breathing synthesizers, and beautifully folky vocals that would not have been out of place on either Nòvia or Mantra of Love. Not to worry, folks: these tunes both work beautifully in the scheme of things and are utterly lovely on their own. Take all three and you have not only a return to form, but perhaps something more as well because of the depth of diversity revealed. These two tracks reflect the influence of Gong on Kawabata, and his willingness to let go of the reins and let the AMT/MP U.F.O become a new entity. The sick metal guitar insanity returns in "I Wanna Be Your Bicycle Seat," with thrash tempos, Kawabata's guitar is on full stun and burn, and Uki Eiji's drums in full flailing fury as Atsushi Tsuyama's bass and Higashi Hiroshi's bass and synths anchor and push and pull and scrape and scree until the entire thing just comes apart at the seams -- all in under two minutes. The beautiful balladry, that comparatively would not have been out of place on a Ghost album a few years ago -- returns in Tsuyama's "Interplanetary Love," with Eastern drones and Kawabata's sarangi accompanying his acoustic guitar. It sounds like a Japanese version of Steeleye Span at their most haunting and most old world. The set closes out, though, on the sprawling, half-hour "The Tale of Solar Sail -- Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky," written by Tsuyama and Kawabata. It begins on a drone, with recorder and flute, sounding like something nomadic; a drone accompanied by single notes being played from an instrument and era out of time immemorial. At about five-and-a-half minutes the guitars and synths kick in with throbbing bass and skittering cymbals and tom toms, playing tribal and mid-level, with voices and flutes swooping in and floating out. At 11 minutes the vocals give way to power rock and Kawabata's guitar solo in serious overdrive. Everything increases in volume, distorted basses and guitars nearly drowning out Eiji's drums! The piece eventually moves into free-form freak-out with saxes honking atop the bass and drums and even the electric guitar before returning to the realm of droning power folk ballad and finally coming to rest in a balance of energy, power, and mind-expanding beauty. The retooling of this band was risky, but the creative payoff is big. Highly recommended.

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