As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Acid Mothers Temple.
Japan is often seen as a comfortable mystery to hordes of American tourists, animation buffs, comic collectors, and film auteurs; a world brimming with Shinto mysticism, towering cityscapes, lush countrysides, and an overall addiction to the cheeky and absurd. Japan has long been the bottom of the rabbit hole of the United States -- mad hatters, Alices, and white rabbits galore.
As for music, Japan is often associated with the worst of American music -- the outcasts and never weres that litter our shores with little to no success tour Japan for gobs of money and fleeting glimpses of celebrity. To Americans, Japan’s own commercial output, known by many as J-Pop, is pure saccharine sweetness when compared to our brand of homogenized, factory made commercial music. However, lurking deep within Japan’s ranks are soldiers of garage, punk, electronic, jazz, hip-hop, experimental and psychedelic pioneers: Ghost, Merzbow, Boredoms, Boris, Toshinori Kondo, Hiroyuki Usui, Shiina Ringo, Cheiko Mori, Miminokoto, Zazen Boys, Tujiko Noriko...
One of the most treasured of these Nippon commodities is Acid Mothers Temple. Since 1995, guitarist Kawabata Makoto has surrounded himself with like-minded musicians who look for nothing more than to stoke the flames of psychedelic rock. Dark Side of the Black Moon: What Planet Are We On? is Acid Mothers Temple’s latest for American imprint Important; a combination of blazing guitar riffs, spaced-out melodies, and science fiction additives. Now settled as Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O., Kawabata and his ragged band blend the sort of cosmic showmanship once reserved for George Clinton with the face-melting acid rock that inspired Acid Tests and tie-dye. Employing traditional mores to psychedelic jams, Acid Mothers Temple also pride themselves in the unconventional: electric bouzouki, synthesizer, sitar, and violin—instruments associated with regions and genres at best loosely associated with flower power inspiration. It further cements Acid Mothers Temple as an anomaly: be it to country, genre, or style. Dark Side of the Black Moon is a trip without the need of a hallucinogen; everything worth distorting is done by the hands of Japan’s fiercest psychedelic freaks.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.