Le freak, c'est chic
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE / VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS, 8TH NOVEMBER 2006, CARDIFF POINT
Another evening down at the Point, another game of Cardiff Indie Scene I-spy. It's much less busy than last night, so much so that they've got tables and chairs out at the back of the room, but look! There's Lesson No 1's Noel again! And over there D C Gates, Gindrinker's unstable raconteur / frontman! And Carl of Forecast too (after all, this is another of his nights).
Easing us gently into the evening's entertainment are Voice Of The Seven Woods. Or should that be "First up IS Voice Of The Seven Woods"? After all, VOTSW is one man, Rick Tomlinson. Not that you'd guess if you had your back to the stage, though. You see, Tomlinson adroitly and repeatedly samples himself, then replaying back the recordings whilst playing something new over the top. The songs are literally constructed on stage. When you can do this, who needs anyone else? Tomlinson is a one-man-band for the twenty-first century.
His songs are a bit special too, demanding a silence the audience is quick to grant them. Tomlinson, who records for Andy Votel's Twisted Nerve label, deals in a kind of apocalyptic comedown folk - very tricksy instrumentals (aside from one with a lyric about the coming dawn) which are both seductive and vaguely sinister.
All of which sets the scene nicely for Acid Mothers Temple. Or Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O., to give them their full title. The prolific Japanese foursome, part of the Acid Mothers collective, are touring in support of their latest LP, Have You Seen The Other Side Of The Sky?. I'm guessing you've already got some sense of what they sound like.
Acid Mothers Temple suggest that Western culture travels very, very slowly to Japan. It seems our 1980s and 1990s certainly haven't arrived there just yet. They are The Beatles of Sgt Pepper's or The White Album gone heavy metal, or Black Sabbath if they were utterly mushroom-fucked rather than just a bit snowblind.
Founder member and guitarist Kawabata Makoto has an even more insanely bouffant barnet than Russell Brand, looking something like former Soundgarden stringsman Kim Thayil after a scrap with a pair of hair crimpers. With his floating pyjama-esque trousers and long grey hair, Higashi Hiroshi (synthesizer / guitar), resembles a wizard who's temporarily misplaced his cape and hat. Drummer Uki Eiji has a tufty grey Mr Miyagi beard. Beanie-hatted bassist Tsuyama Atsushi might ostensibly cut a more sober figure, but then he's the one who performs the water-gargling "vocals" to one song. Put it this way: if they walked into the pub, you wouldn't mistake them for tax inspectors on a night out.
In the technicolour universe that Acid Mothers Temple inhabit, each and every song presents the opportunity for a freakout - and every opportunity passed up is very definitely an opportunity wasted. They are definitely firm believers in wringing the most out of a riff, the opening song (like Yo La Tengo's last night) stretching for a good ten minutes.
This isn't simply about headfuck noise, though. There's plenty of weirdness and randomness during the intervals between passages of aural punishment - monk-style chanting, for instance - and it's at these moments that I feel most disorientingly removed from their plane.
The final song of the set has been going at full tilt for fifteen minutes, when it suddenly scales back down to the opening guitar motif. Surely that must be it? Surely they can't ratchet it up again, louder and more intense? Oh yes they can. Another ten minutes later - during which Makoto presumably gives the venue manager kittens, swinging his guitar round his head and then rubbing it against the back of the amps suspended from the converted church's ceiling - it's finally over. Whither my brain?
When they reappear for the encore, Atsushi is wearing a pair of butterfly wings. It's that kind of night.