Acid Mothers Temple have become one of the most reliable names in Japan in recent years, with their reputation as mildly psychotic experimenters with sonics and rhythms and riffs from the depths of prog hell and pop heaven remaining intact for more than 25 releases. Surely, no review can be worthwhile for them now. They, under the guidance of enigmatic leader Makoto Kawabata, have ploughed their own inimitable furrow for so long that they are pretty much critically and creatively invincible now. They are the Japanese Flaming Lips, a band so universally admired that if they were to release a vaguely tepid album, fans would still rave about its ‘difficult genesis’ or its ‘warped genius’.
Luckily, Have You Seen The Other Side Of The Sky is great. It’s as inventive and darkly hilarious as any other of their releases, flurrisome riffs and mechanically precise musicianship are joined by the ever-celestial chanting of various members, as if summoning an unnamed deity that is still yet to appear. As we cycle through the theremins, flutes, ethnic percussions, tamburas and a myriad of other ‘surely that’s just a novelty!’ instruments, it becomes clear that the themes of this record are much more sedate and considered. Maybe even more (deep breath…) mainstream? The melodies are much clearer than usual, the accompaniments softer and more sensitive. But when it comes down to it (and it does quite a lot), they still know how to abandon tonality and hold themselves together by the unifying principle of a surgically irremovable riff in the face.
The sheer crushing ferocity of “I Wanna Be You Bicycle Saddle” is enough to scare the shit out of any unsuspecting stoner lulled by the previous wooze-fest of “Asimo’s Naked Breakfast,” and the modally inclined sitar drones of “Interplanetary Love” is just the ticket to get them snoozing peacefully again. The record is seemingly driven by energy and verve alone at several points, but there is always the inclination towards that astonishing musical prowess, that inimitable command of the instruments to satisfy anyone lamely degrading the value of improvisation. AMT have got it sewn up.
The second half of closing marathon “The Tails Of The Solar Sail – Dark Stars In The Dazzling Sky” is as violently fulfilling as rock music can be. It is unbelievably muscular, stridently parading around with bombast and psychedelic splendour to spare as if sent as a divine message from the Gods of all that is musically intense. It positively seethes with vigour and energy and furiously ends on a defiantly low-key sob of acoustic guitars and the sound of a massacred electric guitar feeding back. Chances are that guitar will never work harder or more effectively.
Melt-Banana – Teeny Shiny
Sunburned Hand Of The Man – Rare Wood
Boris – Pink