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Acid Mothers Temple - Mantra of Love

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Artist: Acid Mothers Temple

Album: Mantra of Love

Label: Alien8

Review date: May. 9, 2004

Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple have become a modern psych powerhouse since their inception in 1995. Over 40 releases grace the collective’s discography, a varied and impressive sum, considering the group’s relatively short period of existence. Mantra of Love is the group’s most recent release, and their second for Alien 8, who released the lauded Electric Heavyland in 2002. If the title Mantra of Love sounds mild in comparison, it’s no mistake – the Mothers tap a more mellifluous vein on their latest effort, stressing melody and space over intensity.

The disc’s first half, “La Le Lo,” is a traditional song in the Occitan language (a language used in the Provence region of France, as well as small bits of Italy and Spain). “La Le Lo” begins with vocalist Cotton Casino (who has since left the band) singing repetitive, titular lyrics over Eastern-influenced guitar. Background vocals, ethereal and reverent, add to the track’s entrancing qualities as the music unfurls in pleasant, melodious waves.

After almost six minutes, the mood shifts, and the Mothers shift into hyperspace. The lead guitar treads relatively the same path, but is now engulfed in the rest of the band’s somewhat tepid jamming and swirling synth effects. As the track progresses, the improvised psychedelia becomes more intense, and the first segment of the song reprises only to be summarily swallowed up by more of the band’s interplanetary excursions. The pull between the two song sections is what really makes the track, creating a sense of tension and unexpectedness within a thirty-minute song that might otherwise have become a bit mundane.

“L’Ambition dans le Miroir” stays the course paved by “La Le Lo.” AMT explore delicate curtains of cascading guitar and vocals, laced with swooshing synths that help to imbue an intergalactic feeling. The space-age accoutrements tend to obscure the song’s beautiful vocals, however, lending an affected tone to the proceedings.

The more gorgeous and mesmerizing aspects of Mantra of Love are the disc’s strong points, and when Acid Mothers Temple are in full swing, one can almost see the colors dance. It’s not wholly unbeaten territory in any respect, but Mantra of Love is still an alluring trip to take.

By Adam Strohm

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