It's been a while, a long while since the venerable Acid Mothers Temple graced these headphones, and from the first notes of "Dark Star Blues," changes abound. Jyonson Tsu's acoustic guitar adds a folky vibe to what will slowly morph into the loud, slightly sludgy and synth-washed psychedelic fabric adorning everything I've heard from these wonderfully referential hipsters. Speaking of reference, is that "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun's minor riff bubbling just beneath the surface of the track's slow build? Tangential but related, doesn't Tsu's vocal delivery conjure pleasant shades of Tago Mago era Can? It's the same throughout the album; his paper-thin voice and dew-drenched chords provide a calming influence, like latter-day Leonard Cohen. Something else that I've never heard on an AMT disc is the keyboard solo gracing "Hello Good Child." Unlike so many people that spend hours making an electronic instrument sound like a guitar or flute, this one sounds, well, like a keyboard, and it is much more successful for lack of disguise. In some way, the album implies more than it states, as with the faintly Indian vibes pervading "The Beautiful Blue Ecstasy," which also has a shot or two of Zeppelin thrown in for good measure. Whatever mélange of event, timbre and circumstance forming the brew in which the sounds are soaked, that sweeping synthesizer leaves no doubt as to what universe we're inhabiting, nor does the overload when everything distorts, as was so often the case on earlier AMT albums.
Going out on a limb, the best parts of the disc come with another radical sonic element, namely the inimitable flute of Geoff Leigh. Given his work with bands like Ex-Wise Heads, it's as if he was born to play on an album such as this. Just delight in the first pitches ... no, that won't do. They're more than that. The first mixtures of blue note and ornament Leigh offers on "Hello Good Child" raise the pastoral to the astral, and every bend is different, each ascent and descent forming and blurring its own boundaries. Later on the same track, his delicate counterpoint recedes into a hazy distance while the aforementioned keyboard solo cuts through the pastoral atmosphere.
Whether it's a traditional AMT fix you need or a new twist on the established framework, you'll find it here. The recording is superb, yes, even the distorted bits, and the mixture of hi-fi detail and low-fi squall, complete with that Kawabata Makoto guitar we all know and love, makes this a winning entry in a daunting but fascinating catalog.
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