Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Graylien


Acid Mothers Temple @ Portland, Oregon, 4/20

The cosmic globetrotting psych-rock institution invaded Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Studios on April 20, 2015 to spread tidings of peace, noise, and heavy riffs. The group kept a low profile before the show, with synth wizard Higashi Hiroshi stoically manning the merch table while the rest of the group hid in various shadows around the venue.

April 20th (otherwise known as 4/20) has become the de-facto holiday for cannabis users around the globe, and with the recent legalization laws passed in Oregon earlier this year there was much to celebrate. There were signs posted around asking patrons not to light up in the venue, however the smell of sweet smoke and hoppy brews permeated from the patio of the neighboring bar. Outside there was a distorted projector displaying The Lord of The Rings across an entire wall, while inside Acid Mothers Temple began to set up.

the smell of sweet smoke and hoppy brews permeated from the patio

Within moments, the lights were dimmed and kaleidescopic projections of geometric fractals began swirling across the stage. A few clunky chugs on guitars to test levels, a couple one-off snare hits to test the drum mics.

Guitarist Tabata Mitsuru appears wearing gigantic circular American flag sunglasses with the lenses shaped like peace signs, bassist Tsuyama Atsushi grunts something unintelligible into the mic as Kawabata Makoto starts playing the sludgy intro riff of Dark Stars in the Dazzling Sky, which covered the venue in distortion and reverb. Within moments the drums kick in, and the audience is set hurtling through hyperspace.

Extreme time dilation begins once Kawabata Makoto takes his first solo about five minutes into the first song, the crowd is spellbound, stuck in a trance as his guitar emits coded signals warping the listener’s audio/visual sensory organs.

The music becomes gradually looser with each member skronking and scraping their instruments into the void. The drums cut out and bass quickly follows. Soon the noise of feedback and synths create a unique sonic environment. Bassist Tsuyama Atsushi begins to pantomime different bits of Romeo & Juliet, Alice in Wonderland, and Randy Newman’s You Got a Friend in Me, all in a cryptic, theatrical manner. Eventually Atsushi produces a Japanese flute and begins trading riffs with Makoto’s sludgy space guitar, evoking a post-apocalyptic free-jazz Jethro Tull.

I couldn’t help but think Daevid Allen was looking down from Planet Gong and approving of this moment

Drummer Satoshima Nani begins a fast-paced rhythm counted in 7/8 and the band launches into a freaked-out version of Gong’s notorious OM riff.

Although I had seen them perform this song numerous times before, I couldn’t help but think the late, great Daevid Allen (who left this planet earlier in the year) was looking down from Planet Gong and approving of this moment in the space-time continuum.

The geometric fractals projected on band members faces appeared as psychedelic Transformers masks as they chanted the hypnotic mantra “IAO ZA-I ZA-O MA-I MA-O TA-I TA-O NOW”. The music keeps increasing in intensity, the audience is collectively freaking out until the band emerges with the recognizable theme of Pink Lady Lemonade.

The group winds down with a few sonic soundscapes before launching into Cometary Orbital Drive and Speed Guru to close out the night.

Kawabata Makoto drenches the audience in feedback as he takes his final solo of the evening and suddenly the band disappears from the stage. The audience stands in a dumbfounded stupor, unable to conjore the correct words to describe what they just experienced.

Leaving the venue I noticed just how loud the sound had been inside. Communicating with other humans proved much too difficult a task, as the ringing in my ears was louder than my voice. This tinnitus left my ear canals, splintering into millions of fractal paths snaking into the dead of night ahead of me.

The ringing formed blueprints and a map to inform me that there are invisible temples deep inside us, accessible by all, and groups like Acid Mothers Temple are here to remind us how to get there.

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