Aug 13, 2010

Acid Mother's Temple & The Cosmic Inferno. Iao Chant From the Cosmic Inferno.

For some unfathomable reason, iTunes lists this as being Responding to the Treasures of Faith from the album, Staying On the Road to God. That may not be too far off. Kawabata Makoto has often paid tribute to his musical heroes and fellow travelers by adapting their music to his own transcendental wavelengths. He’s built entire albums around Popol Vuh’s Hosianna Mantra and Terry Riley’s In C. Here, he goes a step further, turning Gong's Master Builder into an epic shamanistic journey of heavy-metal astral-projection. It's like the Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun being possessed by early Hawkwind. Introduced by an unaccompanied chorus of solemn Buddhist chants, the track quickly explodes out of the gate with the furiously head-banging "OM Riff", never stopping to look back for the next fifty-one minutes.

If you're new to the Acids, this might be a relatively safe introduction. Their trademark layering of spacey electronics, rocket powered riffage, and propulsively thunderous drumming is all here, but where they can occasionally wander off into aimless, free-form chaos on record, this comes the closest to capturing their rapturous live sound. On OM, their path to religious ecstasy is pretty well plotted. Although they take the opportunity to travel from space rock through prog, Celtic and Asian folk influences, ambient drone, and full-on psychedelic racket, they never meander. Each section evolves naturally out of the previous one. Oliver Sacks wrote about the way migraines arrive fully formed, but distant. The whole experience is there, but it's like watching it approach from the horizon until it envelopes you. Similarly, the various styles the Acids traverse are all inherent in the preceding sections. They're just drawing them out as they go along.

Recorded in the midst of line-up changes, the band takes the opportunity to sum up their deep history as well as use Gong’s source material to propel them into new territories. Elements of their outer-space freakouts have been stripped down to their essential bits and channeled through the OM Riff’s monster-sized bad-assery, imbuing them with a singular vision and sense of purpose. Kawabata is unquestionably a guitar god, although his usual style has little to do with the specific notes he's playing. It's all about the feel of the song, or more accurately, channeling whatever he's feeling—which is probably something like growing to be 5000 feet tall and reaching through the heavens to grapple with the infinities of atom-smashing, burning star cores of the universe. When he’s really on, he can make you feel it too. By the time the OM Riff crashes in again for the final third of the album, it’s pulled elements of all the preceding movements along in its gravitational wake. This is the true sound of the Cosmic Inferno. Kawabata’s soloing like a maniac, his controls set for the heart of the sun. Higashi Hiroshi’s electronics could be an Aurora Borealis of scintillating scotomas; or just as likely, you’ve gone subterranean, and what you thought were shimmering stars was a wildly writhing mass of glowworms. And Shimura Koji and Okano Futoshi power the entire trip with their dual, hammer-of-the-gods drumming.

This is pure, glorious, brain-melting exhilaration all the way, and easily one of the top five albums in the Acid’s sprawling Temple.

Here's the original version by Gong. Now imagine that stretched out for nearly an hour and played by Dr. Manhattan on an LSD freakout.

Iao Chant

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