Acid Mothers Temple, the prolific and ever-changing outfit of psychedelic cosmos travelers, announced their latest releases, a pair of albums, with a press release touting founding members Kawabata Makoto and Higashi Hiroshi’s excitement over their newest comrades. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, of course, but AMT’s sole remaining constants doubled down on this rejuvenated sense of purpose by crafting one record, Reverse of Rebirth in Universe, intended to belatedly inaugurate the band by revisiting some of the band’s earlier gems to show what vocalist Jyonson Tsu, bassist Wolf and drummer Satoshima Nani bring to the group.

This is nothing new for the Temple, who have often returned to older compositions with new lineups and new sources of inspiration to rework their loose jams into new permutations. Lead-off track “Dark Star Blues,” for example, has already had two versions laid down in a studio. The first, a side-length number from their album Does the Cosmic Shepherd Dream of Electric Tapirs?, lays down a mystical, vaguely Middle Eastern spin on a pure doom riff over which Kawabata lays in howling echoes of feedback before exploding into a searching, amoebic guitar solo. An updated version on 2014’s Astrorgasm from the Inner Space showed more compositional rigor, privileging the exotic flavor of the original’s riff while refining the epic solo into something more structured, if still loud. Here, the arc toward increasing cohesion culminates in the tightest rendition yet of the material, with Nani punctuating the spacey riff with occasional thuds of timpani before the track lurches into a death shuffle. Makoto’s solo, when it comes, is a frantic outburst kicking against the more constrictive arrangement, giving the track a tension it never before displayed.

Pataphisical Freak Out MU!! cut “Blue Velvet Blues” is similarly sharpened, swapping out the pure noise intro of the original for a blues rock edge, though things quickly plunge into psychedelic frenzy with a squalling solo nonetheless kept tethered by Wolf’s gurgling bass. Eventually, the track collapses into a strung-out stupor punctuated by old-school sci-fi warbles and little stabs of desert-fried guitar. It’s a sweeping overhaul of the clanging original, and it shows how much AMT has developed over the years to refine and deepen their exploration of noise beyond mere volume. Yet the true showcase for the current lineup’s potential here is a new track,

“Black Summer Song,” a side-length jam that bursts into being with feedback, atonal synth chords and droning saxophones. About four minutes in, an actual tune coalesces, a driving, punkish piece of noise rock that sounds like something Deerhunter might have recorded around Cryptograms or Microcastle. A tremolo-heavy solo leads into a pivot to a chugging dreambeat flecked by light strums of guitar that in turn opens up into a slinking, curious stretch. Eventually, the track bottoms out into musique concrète, all tape splices as the song swallows itself. “Black Summer Song” shows off the broad reach of the current lineup, so it’s no wonder that the all-original album Sacred and Inviolable Phase Shift, proves the true demo for this iteration’s true capabilities. After a brief intro, “Errors in Gold Room” roars out on Makoto’s guitar, but as the ringleader does one of his patented freakouts, both Wolf and Nani anchor the song while also charging ahead with furious abandon. Nani plays so fast that he nearly employs blastbeats, while Wolf frantically strums a thick, burbling bassline to keep pace and weave around Makoto’s guitar and Tsu’s emotionally distant vocals. “Astrological Rendezvous” uses drone and rolling drums to create alternately blissful and nervy rock. Tsu’s vocals are hypnotic, loops of twitchy, half-articulated coos.

The album proper concludes with “From Planet Orb with Love. Good-bye Mrs. Uranus,” a 20-minute odyssey that begins as pure cod-Indian raga-pop that distends further and further. About halfway in, the song morphs into what sounds like a country rock interpolation of TLC’s “Waterfall,” complete with “Kashmir”-esque strings and a Hendrixian guitar solo. Tsu’s spaced-out vocals only add to the sense of total bafflement as the track plays out to the end. It’s the perfect AMT number: invigorating, unpredictable, even downright goofy in its freeform exploration.

Both albums include a bonus final track for CD versions that would not fit onto single-disc vinyl pressings. Reverse of Rebirth in Universe includes a live cover of “Flying Teapot” by spiritual ancestors and occasional collaborators in oddball psych, Gong. It’s a proper piece of space-prog, with a beautifully restrained, lyrical, but still distorted and warping solo by Makoto that spikes occasionally with ferocity. Meanwhile, the mammoth, nearly half-hour “Invisible Eyes and Phantom Cathedral” is arguably the finest thing on either disc. The stylistic range on display is dizzying: mid-‘90s industrial rock dumps into Middle Eastern dub, which in turn becomes twitchy post-punk. And this is all just in the first third of the song; eventually darting, double-time surf rock collides with a splintered solo, only for Wolf and Nani to take lead for an extended breakdown. Gradually, the track ascends heavenward, soaring ever higher on waves of squall until it closes out in pure sonic nirvana.

  • Ulver: Flowers of Evil

    Stuck in a rare resting pattern, Norwegian shapeshifters Ulver offer up another slice of t…
  • Tricky: Fall to Pieces

    Driven by a recent loss, Tricky has put forward arguably his most soulful, compelling work…
  • Bill Frisell: Valentine

    A breezy combination of blues, folk and jazz, Frisell’s latest is the sound of a maestro g…
  • Fleet Foxes: Shore

    After the dense and solemn Crack-Up, Robin Pecknold returns the Fleet Foxes to their roots…
  • Revisit: Donna Summer: The Wanderer

    A beginning, middle and end, this may not be Summer’s strongest album, but it contains all…
  • Hen Ogledd: Free Humans

    This is a lot of trebly, upbeat music to stomach in one sitting, but Hen Ogledd has evolve…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Ulver: Flowers of Evil

Stuck in a rare resting pattern, Norwegian shapeshifters Ulver offer up another slice of t…