ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O. live at Il Clandestino, Faenza, Italy – Sunday 18th November 2012

Last night, my bucket list was reduced by one as I finally got the chance to witness a show by the current incarnation of the cult Japanese ‘soul collective’ Acid Mothers Temple (AMT).

The announcement of this free show in a small club/bar in Faenza was only made through social network sites the night before. This five-piece version of the AMT extended family of inspired dysfunctionals appear to be putting together the Italian leg of their European tour on the fly with further dates added at the last minute in Milan and Rome.

On posters, web-links and T-shirts this is billed as the “Last Tour in UK & Europe 2012” which presumably (hopefully!) is meant to be read as the final set of gigs this year rather than their last ever shows.

As befitting a band whose name is a corruption of 70s Krautrockers Ash Ra Tempel, they treated us to a killer 90 minute set that alternated between ear-splitting space rock and improvised psychedelic ambience.

Kawabata Makoto

Drummer Shimura Koji is the only one lacking a full head of extravagant hair. Band leader Kawabata Makoto has the most impressive of the manes; a frizzy black Zappaesque afro with scraggy beard to match. He stands stage right at one with the massive Marshall speakers. At times he strums out a repetitive riff that puts him into a self-induced trance but will then explode into a epileptic frenzy. Tabata Mitsuru stands stage centre but plays less showily in contrast to Makoto’s serious guitar abuse.

Tsuyama Atsushi is from the Damo Suzuki school of vocalists chanting in what sounds suspiciously like improvised gibberish in place of anything profound in his own language. He also plays bass, flute (more like a school recorder) and a primitive clarinet.

Meanwhile, Higashi Hiroshi with lank greying locks and deadpan expression produces high-pitched cosmic effects on synthesiser in a sage-like Gandelfian manner more befitting a wise elder from a remote village than someone at the heart of a band on a mission is to conjure up  “extreme trip music”.

Summing up this psychedelic stew is no easy task, like all true head music it is better experienced than analysed. Suffice to say these old wild men more than lived up to their self-proclaimed status as “a freak out group for the 21st century”.