Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - "Sorcerer's Stone of the Magi" (Lord of the Underground: Vishnu and the Magic Elixir)
Kawabata Makoto’s ubiquitously rhapsodic heart-on-sleeve hommages to 1960s psychedelia are always tempered with moments of welcome zaniness. Lord of the Underground is hardly any different, but tweaks the formula just enough to make things interesting as the disc heads toward that inevitable Acid Mothers Temple climax .
The riff-based opener, “Eleking the Clay,” is a 13-minute broiler of the sort we’ve been hearing from AMT for 12 years or so, featuring male vocals this time around instead of the departed Cotton Casino. It offers up a couple of tasty organ morsels, but doesn’t really justify its length. “Sorcerer’s Stone of the Magi” is a brief bit of reverb-drenched folk shot through with those Tim Blake-inspired synths that have become an AMT hallmark. As with briefer pieces on the group’s more recent efforts, it’s gently restful before the storm.
The best is saved for last. The title track begins with one strummed chord, a brilliant continuation of the laid-back folky vibe from “Sorcerer.” The ensuing silence is broken by percussive taps, sweeps of synths and male vocal exhalations. It’s almost as if the first two tracks have been deconstructed and the fragments tossed into the void. Then, strangely enough, someone in the band begins to snort, like those pig noises from Frank Zappa’s discography. Here, it’s a bit anemic, but unlike everything else, it’s dry and up front in the mix. Guttural incantations follow as voids begin to fill and drums point the way toward cataclysm.
The ascent is stunning, particularly Makoto’s shredding. Other solos accompany the gradual intensification, but exactly what instruments produced them eludes these ears. Perhaps a kazoo? After the fray, the drums disappear into a vast swirl of distortion and feedback, and the briefest drone brings the disc to an unexpected but fascinating close.
By Marc Medwin
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