Acid Mothers Temple | Bluedot Festival | July 22nd 2018

One of the stranger acts in the shadow of the telescope this weekend was Acid Mothers Temple, a group that resolutely defies style, genre and most other standards of classification in popular music.

Formed in 1995, Acid Mothers Temple are a group of experimental musicians mainly from Japan, led by virtuosic guitarist and former rock star Makoto Kawabata, and including a sprawling, ever changing network of philosophically similar individuals. Incorporating elements of psychedelic, progressive and traditional guitar music, Acid Mothers Temple weave one hour-long piece, with no breaks. Everything is presided over by a dial turning wizard, complete with long white hair and beard, centre stage, setting off whistling, piercing drones and punching bass stabs.

The air of improvisation is only heightened when, halfway through the set, the Roland synthesizer cuts out. Hard at first to notice above the frantic blast-beat and frenzied mandolin strumming, there was no whistle. This addition to the already noisy ensemble was one of the major things setting it apart from other progressive rock bands, and so, warranty be damned, the man took out a pliers from his folded top, opened up the lid of his machine, and began to work, twisting wires into one another, and readjusting elements of circuit borders, all while the drummer tried his utmost to break every single one of his cymbals.

There were, spattered throughout the performance, lulls, where more mellow basslines throbbed through, and sounds bordering on acid-disco, or even folk, but after the five performers were allowed to catch their breath, the frenetic, thrashing rock came again.

Starting at half five, while the sun was still beating down outside, the noises coming from inside the Orbit tent attracted enough to stretch the capacity, and the fabric. The incredibly intense performance, on-the-fly electrical repair and all, culminated, towards the end of the last 5 minute section of the wholly improvised groove, in Kawabata swinging his guitar about his head, tapping on the neck all the while, and finally, bringing it down onto his Marshall stack, sending resounding feedback around the room.

All senses numb, the crowd stumbled out of a collective out-of-body experience, squinting at daylight, and clutching their ears.

by Ronan Long


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