It is hard to believe over 40 years ago Joe Meek was cementing his “legendary” status by releasing a bunch of songs influenced primarily by his obsession with production technique and technology, possible otherworld travel, and the then-burgeoning space programs being developed by the world’s powers. In the early 1960s, these celestial sounds would have been considered “cherry.” Using similar sounds in 2007 would be the pits, but that doesn’t seem to stop Acid Mothers Temple from employing them anytime they want to with varying degrees of appropriateness, including on the latest effort Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Under the Stars.
Despite half-hearted protests from leader Kawabata Makoto claiming that Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Under the Stars has the “cleanest sound in AMT history,” it is still AMT. As soon as the needle hits the groove (or as soon as the laser beam tracks the digital data track), there is no forgetting exactly to what you are listening. There are still 20- and 40-plus minute songs; there is still the overindulgence of spacey effects, noise, and dense throbbing fucking around; and there is still a mountain or two of feedback with piles of echo, reverb, and compression. Every Acid Mothers Temple album is different from the last and a step in a direction, unfortunately it is not always forward.
Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Under the Stars, being an Acid Mothers Temple album, is deliciously incoherent, complex, and stupid. The (half) title track “Crystal Rainbow Pyramid” starts, unsurprisingly, with a Sabbath-like bassline before making way for guitar histrionics, storm effects, and the sped-up, Chipmunked vocals (incidentally, a popular Meek tool) of newest member Kitagawa Hao. True to its name, “Electric Psilocybin Flashback” is an extremely long, varied trip that begins with some serious sympathetic plucking, jumps in and out of a variety of scenes along the way (whispers over acoustic folk plucking, a spacey sax break, more noise, and trippy sounds), then flashes back into a barrage of sitar/bouzouki strumming. It is bold but will eventually have many thinking, “Haven’t I heard all of this before?”
Acid Mothers Temple often get praised for being particularly uninhibited in this age of choreographed moves. I love AMT’s respect for the heavy psych tradition of the 1960s and, from a fan’s standpoint, the idea of hyper-releasing everything put to tape would normally have me frothing at the mouth. However, without any filtering of the material, quality is sacrificed. Modern ROCK bands still have the power and intelligence to elevate listeners to unsuspected and unprecedented levels of cosmic wonderment, but Crystal Rainbow Pyramid Under the Stars leaves me feeling a little short-changed. Like opening your baggie to find dried-out shiitakes instead of potent ‘shrooms.
1. Pussy Head Man From Outer Space
2. Crystal Rainbow Pyramid
3. Electric Psilocybin Flashback