Acid Mothers Temple In 0 to Infinity

[Important; 2010]

Styles: psychedelia, noise, experimental
Others: Terry Riley, Afrirampo, The Pink Ladies Blues, Guru Guru

Psychedelia is never as simple as it seems. What a lot of fans may not really get (well, not you, but, you know, those other guys) is that making mind-bending music doesn’t require that one has one’s own mind bent. Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple have, undoubtedly, put a tab in the ocean and sailed those seas of cheese (because otherwise, why bother?), but the (I’ll just say it, very Japanese) rigor of their touring and release schedule over the last 15 years makes it clear that they’re running something a little more structured than a full-time Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

The same thing is true musically. I still rate AMT at South by Southwest in 2000 as the single best show I’ve ever seen, and while it was undeniably a mind-melting freakout, it was built on a solid foundation of hard work and structure. I don’t think I totally grasped that until I’d spent the next few years listening to New Geocentric World of Acid Mothers Temple, still probably their definitive, most focused statement. You have to have limits before you can break them, lines before you can color outside of them.

What I’m leading up to here is that, according to these standards, In 0 to Infinity — a follow-up to their 2002 cover of Terry Riley’s In C — is a bit of a disappointing departure. While the four 15-minute tracks are definitely not songs in the traditional sense, they’re not really jams either. They’re closer to mantras, repeating themes layered with odd outbursts, dark and foreboding. Things ‘build’ in the sense that more and more stuff gets added, but there’s not much sense in all the muck that we’re really going anywhere. The sounds are a mix: analog, scratchy, digital, some moaning singing. There’s very little guitar and very little drumming. Basically, this is a sonic soup, the soundtrack to taking mushrooms alone, if you want to spend an hour convincing yourself there aren’t cockroaches burrowing under your skin.

All of which is a roundabout way to say this is a particularly niche AMT release. If I saw it live, I would not (as I did back in 2000) freak out and push to the front of the stage and pump my fist in the air. Honestly, I’d probably get bored and walk out. AMT are a hugely prolific band, and that sort of flood-the-market philosophy necessarily means they can’t all be polished, complete works — and this isn’t the first time they’ve fallen victim to the temptation to lean on their ‘psychedelic’ status to produce something directionless. And, who knows, maybe you’re in the target demo for this thing. Perhaps you run a haunted house of some sort? Anyway, if you want an album that’s an experience without the addition of drugs and/or animatronics, look elsewhere.

Links: Acid Mothers Temple - Important

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