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Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

  by Andrew Carver

published: 18 / 5 / 2007

Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007


After being forced to cancel their last North American tour because of visa difficulties, Andrew Carver watches Japanese psychedelic rockers Acid Mothers Temple recompense for it by playing a fiery and stunning set at Ottawa's Babylon club

Acid Mothers Temple has carved out a reputation as a mighty psychedelic juggernaut. When not turning out oodles of CDs, they tour their brain-burning live show far and wide. Ottawa fans had been champing at the bit for a view of the Japanese colossus, only to suffer bitter disappointment when a 2006 tour of North America was cancelled due to visa difficulties. Not so this time: The band rolled through Babylon at the end of April to perform a sold-out show in front of a crowd drawn from as far away as Montreal. The first act on stage was local psych band Castor - longtime aficionados of Acid Mothers Temple - whose squealing, shuddering, riff-heavy instrumental jams made a good fit. While prior Castor sets have sometimes gone on a bit long for their own good, the pressure of opening up for a pair of bands they hold in such high regard brought out the band’s best. Californian heavy psych rockers Mammatus were next on stage. Pitched somewhere between the rumbling doom of Sleep and the frenzied strangeness of Comets on Fire, Mammatus blends titanic grooves with vocals echoed to an almost ludicrous degree. The hairy, lumberjack-shirt clad quartet get a major boost from a crushing drummer and a Leslie West-sized frontman – their pummelling set was roundly applauded. The crowd whistled and cheered as Acid Mothers Temple took the stage. While the band’s recorded work can feature a virtual commune of helping hands (one of their earlier albums even gave a credit to the dog, along with a host of other worthies), live the band usually makes do with five people: Ringleader Kawabata Makoto, long-serving bassist Atsushi Tsuyama and synthesizer player Higashi Hiroshi are the most stable part of the lineup; for a long time Cotton Casino served as the band’s female vocalist - Kitagawa Hao has since stepped into her (figuratively) sizeable shoes. Shimura Koji filled the drummer’s seat. Kawabata Makoto led the group through its paces, alternating between hard rock riffing and unleashing a blizzard of notes from his upper fretboard, sometimes looming over his microphone to join in a group chant. At one point he took a small model jitte to use as a slide. His fiery guitar playing was complemented by amp overdrive and wah pedal use. Kitagawa draped a shawl over her tour T-shirt and twirled dreamily, occasionally manipulating her Theremin. Tsuyama lived up to his reputation as the band’s joker, bantering with the audience between songs (“What is ... rock’n’roll?” he asked one heckler asking for more of it; “I think it’s a type of sushi,” was Higashi’s answer). At other times he twittered on a small woodwind or did what was either a small victory dance or his impression of a man in a sack race. Hiroshi pulled weird yowls from his synthesizer while swaying and swivelling in a rough approximation of the pitch’s rise and fall. Shimura Koji was a relatively stoic presence behind the drums; a notably more restrained performer than Mammatus’s Aaron he could still pound out the beat when called for on the band’s heavier tunes. At times the music flowed in a psychedelic torrent. In others they throttled things back to chant a mantra (for example on the multipart ‘Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo’ the title track on their latest album). The packed house couldn’t get enough of either the blistering rock or the quieter, folkish passages. As the show built to its finale Kawabarta began to torture his guitar’s whammy, at one point lifting his axe up and pointing it at the audience with only the bar in his grip. After tossing the guitar around a bit more and attempting to suspend it from the ceiling by hooking it over an electrical cord, he tossed it down and left the stage, followed by the band. The crowd yelled for more and was duly rewarded with an extensive, fiery encore. After leaving the stage (Atsushi and Koji were the last to go, the former dancing his way off the stage) the band could be seen collapsed backstage in various states of sweaty exhaustion. The show was undoubtedly a dream come true for several people in the crowd. A few could be heard discussing sudden plans to follow the band to Toronto for their next show.

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Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

Acid Mothers Temple - Babylon, Ottawa, 30/4/2007

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