Real Live Action

Acid Mothers Temple | Kinski Sonic Suicide Squad

April 7 @ Biltmore Cabaret

Review By Darren Gawle

Sarcasm, from what I hear, is a very un-Japanese trait, making the between-song banter by Acid Mothers Temple even funnier:
“Oooh! Are we Japanese noise band? Are we… experimental? Ooh! From underground! We are the experimental band! Oooh! Even more so than… Captain Beefheart!”

It should be noted that the last part of that quote was delivered by guitarist Makoto in a falsetto several octaves higher than the rest.

Right, then—so the “e” word won’t be used in this review. Let’s say that the openers, New Jersey’s Sonic Suicide Squad, are not experimental, then—their extension of Ornette Coleman’s or AMM’s experiments in free music from 40-plus years ago might struggle to find relevance today, if in fact the need to “free the music” is still entirely relevant. SSS go so far beyond the concept of freeing the music from human conceits that they’ve brought it back to an idiom of pure sound. Progress has become regress, and SSS captures it in a primeval gumbo of saxophone, drums and synthesizer. Occasionally, a brief semblance of melody was discernible before disappearing into the chaos. Experimental? No: this genre’s real experimentation ended 40 years ago—this is an application of the research. And according to a number of audience members, you can bang your head to it, too.

Acid Mothers Temple is a voyage around the collective musical consciousness of the group. Inspired by experimentalism? Yes, but nothing happened onstage to really challenge any musical preconceptions. The music was free to wander as it pleased, meandering though traditional Japanese sounds played on electric guitar, accompanied by what sounded like Shinto chanting. The band’s signature tune, “Pink Lady Lemonade,” featured a delicate, extended acoustic intro and stretched out to nigh on 45 minutes. There was a lot of sonic scenery along the way, the intro eventually leading into a full-on electric reading of the song, with the rhythm guitar holding the groove down (via an arpeggiated riff akin to Public Image Limited’s “Poptones”) while a dialogue between bass and synth ended with what sounded like either a quote or a piss-take on the Doors’ “The End.” This was a show which rewarded closer listening—with Acid Mothers Temple, the devil’s always in the details.

Tucked in between Sonic Suicide Squad and Acid Mothers Temple on the bill were Seattle’s Kinski. No strangers to performing with Acid Mothers Temple, Kinski unfortunately sounded positively conventional between two more exper… uh, I mean between the two other bands. Pity, as Kinski would shine brighter in a different context. The band was compelling to watch, with deceptively simple chord-based arrangements which remained mostly instrumental and drove relentlessly as though powered by some cosmic orgone accumulator. [ed. It’s a crazy invention. Look it up. I did.] Positive comparisons to Sonic Youth or Swervedriver are in order, and the appearance of a flute during the last song of their set proved as welcome as the sun on a windy day.