Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – ‘High on New Heaven, Live in New Haven’ (2015)
The folks out at Safety Meeting Records have been busy brewing up something extra special in their sonic laboratory lately and the resulting live album is one of the sweetest I’ve heard in a long, long time! There may never have been a more appropriate opening to an album than this: “It’s 4:20, so please to high on…” They’re the only words that precede the insane blistering noise and psychedelic psychosis that is the opening track on Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.’s new album Live In New Haven “Born Free Stone Free”.
I don’t speak a lick of Japanese, so I have no idea what the song’s about, but I do know that the bone crunching rhythm guitar, spiraling feedback and noisy spatial explosions amongst the airtight rhythm section of The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. builds to an absolute frenzy maybe three minutes into the song. It then erupts into utterly mind blowing territory, serving up a heaping helping of destructive lead lines and solos interweaving, combining, separating, impacting and repeating – over and over again. This is what psych rock is all about; balls out, dead ahead rock’n’roll that’d make your poppa proud; or at least my father would be. Slowly throttling the song back and then propelling it into the concussive lead once more before then trundling back into the main rhythm at what seems like double time, is a hell of a way to build up some steam and it certainly serves to make room for the next brash beast of a song in the procession, “In Search Of Lost Divine Arc”. Much more mellow and contemplative than its predecessor, “In Search Of Lost Divine Arc” sounds a lot like the name would imply. Tentacles of hypnotic rhythmic soloing reach up from a maw of gathering darkness and a general sense of foreboding that’s beginning to condense, the vocals now a mere distant chant to some long forgotten gods, dissipating and evaporating into the ether. Suddenly, the listener is transported from the friendly unassuming setting of the concert in New Haven, to a twisted labyrinth of unsettling, lurching rhythms that spasm and jerk in tormented bursts. “In Search Of The Lost Divine” creeps up your back like the first rising vibes of an acid frenzy, uncontrollable and inescapable – it’s like some sort of unstoppable force of nature or something… At nearly eighteen minutes long it almost seems inconceivable that “In Search Of The Lost Divine” isn’t the main focal point of Live In New Haven, the crucial juncture from which all other inlets of inspiration spring, but “Pink Lady Lemonade” (Part One and Two) is probably the heart and soul of the album honestly. Both sprawling and enigmatic, “Pink Lady Lemonade” begins innocuously enough, with a few minutes of soft jangling bass and guitar basically alone with no percussion and few other backing sounds. What you can’t hear the first time you’re listening to the album is the slow burning energy and lithe rhythm that Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. are cultivating. After “In Search Of The Lost Divine” the opening to “Pink Lady Lemonade” is so raw it’s very nearly underwhelming in the beginning, but by the time the drums kick in about four minutes into “Pink Lady Lemonade” and it really starts to get some traction and move ahead, the song has already washed over you like a cleaning wave of psychedelic enlightenment. The transcendent noise and clamor build to a crescendo of deceivingly powerful, slow and seemingly slightly heartbroken melodies, that stack on top of each other to create something new, unique and beautiful; something freeing and wonderful. One of the most potent elements of psychedelic music, at least to me, is its ability to remove the mind from the corporeal body and allow it to traverse an endless plain of unending multiverses and never ending possibilities, unhindered by the physical realm and entering into the metaphysical. But rarely is it so purely conjured up, or so deftly delivered with efficiency. In fact, while listening to “Pink Lady Lemonade” it’s easy to understand how Acid Mothers Temple has lasted twenty years, the very occasion that marked the release of this material, which was recorded during the 420 holidaze celebrations of 2013. And thank god this was recorded and released! An album like Live In New Haven can’t be rehearsed or planned. It can’t be written out or formulated, bottled or practiced. It can only happen when the band open themselves up and allow the universe to speak through them with single minded purpose, operating as a singular unit to channel and deliver the messages of the universe as untouched as possible. The shimmering peak of “Pink Lady Lemonade” is as near to a spiritual revelation through music as you’re likely to find; completely spectacular in its unfettered madness, seemingly pure and unspoiled. By the time that the screeching sonic bursts that signify the break between Parts One and Two came along, I had completely lost myself in the music. I felt adrift in space, floating in the endless space of the infinite, but somehow I knew I was still sitting on the couch in my living room, if I thought about it hard enough I could even see myself just sitting there. Musical epiphanies, hallucinations and balls out psych, I’ll tell you what, this album’s one hell of a trip! Thankfully the second half of “Pink Lady Lemonade” retains all of the hypnotizing vocal chanting and fuzzy mesmerizing guitar of the first, but kicks the energy level up another notch and rockets Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. back into hyperdrive, now headed back to planet earth at a million miles an hour, tearing through the fiery blanket of the stratosphere and plummeting towards the terra firma. The last four minutes of “Pink Lady Lemonade” might well be the heaviest thing on Live In New Haven, and that’s saying something. They’re like four minutes of freefall, and you can almost taste your heart in your throat the whole time as you battle against mounting g-forces that threaten to implode your chest cavity and pop your lungs like water balloons! Then, the tempo shifts down just ever so slightly as to allow Makoto Kawabata to truly shine through the seeming chaos. There’s definitely a reason that he’s become known as one of the godfather’s of Japanese psychedelia, and this is prime proof right here. The sheer number of different instruments, sounds, and elements that find their way into “Pink Lady Lemonade”, slowly unhinging its rhythm and melody bit by bit, piece by piece, are utterly gob stopping. But even “Pink Lady Lemonade doesn’t last forever and eventually we come to “Cometary Orbital Drive”, which starts with some of the only audible speaking on the recording.
This serves as a good reminder that Live In New Haven isn’t some protracted studio experiment or anything, this is just a couple of guys on a stage with instruments, one the spot, right then and there, which is all too easy to forget while you’re listening to the album honestly. The recording is so crisp, the performance so decisive and so well executed, that you have to keep reminding yourself this is a live album, or at least I do. With “Cometary Orbital Drive” Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso UFO immediately sink their teeth into a gnarly jam from the get go, a simplistic but tasty guitar riff leading the way for explorative space sounds and a confident striding bass rhythm that seems to be the real beating heart at the center of everything. The slow shift up in time is almost imperceptible until you find yourself nearly levitating out of your seat with tension, hands tense and taught with white knuckles digging into the arm rest beside you. “Cometary Orbital Drive” begins to invade your brain cavity as the song continues to gain momentum, building like a freight train snapped loose of its controls, rocketing towards some unknown destination an infinity away. A clamoring wall of fuzz finally builds to a head like a great wave, and eventually breaks, receding back into the ocean of sound and prophesying the oncoming sensory onslaught which is the perfectly named final track on Live In New Haven, “Space Speed Suicide”. The berserk energy comes to a head here on the final side of the final LP and honestly I don’t know how else you could have ended this album. The psychotic fits of energy summoned up from the very gates of psychosis are repacked into something tangible, something almost understandable, into something most definitely audible if nothing else. The howling rhythmic vocals tumble and spill over the wet, distorted guitar lines and hammering bass to join forces with the bone jarring drums, hopping like frogs in a dynamite pond now. And just when you think things can’t get any harder, the band begins to push farther and farther, harder and harder, probing the abyss of madness for jewels of forgotten knowledge and splendor, ejecting the frantic energy from the song like a shell casing before it finally comes to a grinding halt with the ear piercing feedback of an abused guitar now abandoned and forgotten on an empty stage. Some people hate live albums. I’ve always loved them and Live In New Haven is one of those albums I can point to as a great example of why that is. It allows the truest, deepest, and rawest intentions and components of a band to show through, completely unconstrained or tainted by anyone or anything else in the world. And that’s not always such a good thing. In this case though, it’s an amazing one.
I highly recommend scoring the triple-LP set, which is strictly limited to a one time pressing of only 400 copies. There’s already been an edition of a 100 copies on color vinyl with wicked screen-printed covers that’s sold out, and from what I understand the black wax of Live In New Haven is disappearing at a pretty brisk pace as well. Live In New Haven isn’t just an essential own for fans of Acid Mothers Temple, it’s in fact more likely a staple in just about any self-respecting contemporary psychedelic rock enthusiasts collection these days. The shifting soundscapes of Live In New Haven make it an extremely versatile album, with blistering solos, leads and instrumental breaks this is a must have for fans of face melting madness like Earthless or Heavy Blanket, but the slow burning energy of other tracks makes it a must own for fans of more mellow instrumental stuff like GOAT as well. This album deserves a spot on your record shelf, rest assured… Check out the link below for some streaming music, and if you like what you hear check out the other link and make sure to cop yourself some of this sweet, sweet psychedelia before it’s all gone!
– Roman Rathert
Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – High on New Heaven, Live in New Haven (Safety Meeting Records, 2015)