Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O at Auntie Annies
From the days of 13th Floor Elevators and The Grateful Dead’s legendary experimentation (lucidly documented in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) to more recent torchbearers in Hash Jar Tempo and Bardo Pond, psychedelic rock is a widely diverse genre that tends to divide your average group of rock enthusiasts. Spearheaded by virtuoso guitarist Kawabata Makoto, Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O are easily the finest psych-rock band currently in existence. Tonight, thanks once again to the ever-informed endeavours of Strange Victory, they bring their head-expanding sounds to Belfast.
Considering Makoto's early — and not to mention completely kick-ass — request for his guitar to "sound louder than anything in the universe", when the improvisational space-rock intro of 'Chinese Flying Saucer’ suddenly explodes into full-blown psychedelic riffage, you can't possibly help but see his point. With a main groove clearly rooted in straight-up punk rock, its two-note reprise-based theme takes in more experimental sections reminiscent of Krautrockers Neu! and Bardo Pond circa Bufo Alvarius in equal measure. Only ten minutes in and already it feels like we're witnessing something special.
Next to rear its head, the sea-shantyesque opener of 'La Novia' stalks madly into a one hell of a Makoto-led, wah-wah soaked climax. Here, perhaps more than any track tonight, AMT's ever-reliable drummer Shimura Koji's steady force perfectly accompanies bassist Tsuyama Atsushi's endearing semi-gibberish and Higashi Hiroshi's part-synthesizer, part-guitar mastery.
Yet more choral shantyism leads into a improvisational wrecking match — a brief glance throughout the room revealing the odd psychic casualty — before the band decide to unravel probably their most famous track, 'Pink Lemonade Lady'. With a simple and drifting intro evoking Detroit space-rockers Füxa and Auburn Lull, and a weightless segue inducing the spell of The Octopus Project and Ulrich Scnhauss, it’s nothing short of a twenty-five minute epic, taking in awe-inspiring bass solos by Atsushi and a five-minute period in which Makoto is apparently possessed by Funkadelic's Eddie Hazel.
The 4/4 motorik groove of 'Cosmic Soul Death Disco' unravels to reveal a monster riff that sees many of the crowd get involved ,and while the growing space-rock of 'Cometary Orbital Drive' evokes something like the signature melody from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' as played by Jessamine or noise-rock noodlers Comets On Fire, it’s the triumphant closer, 'Dark Stars In The Dazzling Sky', which sees Makoto relapse from his fully-inspired psychedelic lead guitar by hanging his guitar from a lighting rig. Hiroshi's synth lines claw yet further into the ether, and Acid Mothers Temple reach a sonic nirvana in ways very few others know how.