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Acid Mothers Temple - Electric Heavyland

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Artist: Acid Mothers Temple

Album: Electric Heavyland

Label: Alien8

Review date: Nov. 20, 2002

It\'s Heavy

Subtlety has never been one of the Acid Mothers Temple’s greatest strengths. While capable of sublime moments of beauty, often the Japanese noise collective’s songs dissolve into sanity-straining freak-psych madness. However, the magic behind the group has always existed in their ability to blend this apocalyptic wail with brooding electronics and droning Eastern folk.

Electric Heavyland, the Temple’s, like, 400th release this year – but first for Montreal-based Alien 8 Recordings – does away with any such subtlety in favor of 50 minutes of pure bad-trip fury. Mirroring the almost metal crunch of AMT’s recent live shows, Heavyland features three tunes of unadulterated noise (OK, there are a couple of breathers now and then, but for the most part the rock don’t stop).

Heavyland is being touted as the most “groove heavy” of AMT releases, and if your definition of groove incorporates 20-minute long tracks of free-noise then you can’t go wrong. Certainly Kawabata Makoto and Company’s definition of groove is far from that of, say, String Cheese Incident.

The first cut, “Atomic Rotary Grinding God/? Quicksilver Machine Head,” (! huh?) begins with almost two minutes of wavering electronics before Makoto’s death-trip guitars come crashing in like a symphony of grating steel. Squealing synths fly back and forth through the mix as fuzzed drums pound out a primal beat. Melody is nonexistent as AMT forges forward like a group of obi-clad mental cases. After about eight minutes, the whirlwind lets up, allowing for a relatively calm – and psychedelic – interlude. However, a minute later Makoto is back hammering through a dirty proto-Stooges riff topped-off with the wordless caterwauling of pixie-ish synth queen Cotton Casino.

“Loved and Confused” actually features a head-nodding guitar lick (groove!) while the rest of the band seems determined to clutter the mix with as much sonic maelstrom as possible. This track offers no come-down – simply 17 minutes of pounding static. Sure it’s trippy, I guess, if you’re into that mind-exploration as complete anarchy thing, but it sure as hell ain’t no Sgt. Pepper.

Closer “Phantom of Galactic Magnum” is (surprise!) a 19-minute blitzkrieg of noise. Though still somewhat fascinating, by this point the hammer-to-the-head trick has become old.

While the Electric Heavyland can be awe-inspiring live, it is a bit much for even the most burnt psychedelic adventurer. Gone is the variety that in the past made AMT so captivating. And while Makoto’s guitar wizardry is in full effect, even the most dedicated AMT fans will find their patience tried by the unrelenting crush of Electric Heavyland.

By Ethan Covey

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