Label: Homepathic Records Release date: 01/11/10 Link: Official Site How can one even begin to describe what has happened here? Well, the concept is an easy one: Stearica + Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO are the players, one arguably more ‘indie rock’ than the other, and they have decided to record a jam session. At least, I think it’s a jam session…there are moments here that seem a little too well composed to be mere jam happenstance, probably the result of previous jams to get a feel for each other. Rather than give the album a title that references prog bands, an Acid Mothers staple, the result has been simply titled Stearica Invade Acid Mothers Temple, a title that implies both bands merging forcefully while also providing a bizarre mental image of Kawabata Makoto as a temple filled with pregnant burnouts. It’s fittingly simple yet evocative, a sign of the music within yet also a portent omen of the lacking substance that pervades the longer pieces. OK, only four of the seven songs here are really “songs,” the rest just being ambient interlude and noise fuckery. Opener ‘Vultute Chiama Fujiyama’ is the first hurdle to get over – an omnipresent tone somewhere in the “my skull is going to explode like Scanners” range of pitch rings over the band warming up – feedback folds over itself, rim clicks echo from what may be two drummers, guitars and basses let out sighs of low distorted notes, a voice in Italian intones 1000 Hurts style, and then nothingness. It’s bold, the kind of move that is not unheard of for Acid Mothers yet still seems out of place. Why torture before the pure pleasure of ‘Queen King’? Holy fuck, is this where things take off. The monster bass sound of Acid Mothers is bass, all chug and drang, the kind of sound that is as off-putting (due to its pure, menacing bite) as it is warmly enveloping. What happens over the period of 7’22” is nothing short of inspired craftsmanship, the song moving between sections flawlessly, balancing gull call synths with distorted pads over the thickest rhythm section that Makoto and Stearica can conjure. Next track, ‘Warp Lag,’ would not be out of place on Tago Mago or even Future Days, half Krautrock bliss, half post-rock jam, all killer and a fitting foil to the crushing low end of ‘Queen Kong.’ Sadly, things fall apart hereafter for a bit with ‘Noodles + Peperoncino’ breaking the tension of the 7/8 drum loop and Four Tet-esque kalimba shimmer to instead “reward” the listener with some half-baked ambient and Tortoise-light sections that fail to meet the expectations set so highly by the previous 15 minutes of audio, an almost shocking shift until ‘I Nani’ continues the lameness. I Nani’ is the sound of imagination faltering. When all these two bands can come up with is a dark ambient tinged backing and simple snare pattern for almost three minutes before finally dumping in monster bass, something is wrong. Why isn’t this bass here from the beginning along with that awesome noise rock guitar? Why, instead, do we get three fifths of a song made of nothing but the same dull part? There is no change here, no switch as set forth by every other song, instead a jarring change to liven things up after the corpse has already stiffened, a move as ill-advised as it is ill-executed, the kind of track that can kill an album and almost murders this one. I guess it’s an introduction to ‘Inani,’ the acoustic guitar driven postlude that manages to throw this album back on track before almost derailing it again. How does it accomplish this? Oh, I don’t know, maybe by including almost one whole minute of low-level noise? Jeezus guys, I know that it must be difficult to keep up the intense jammage, but when you almost hit the echelon of greats like Can, Guru Guru, and Amon Duul II, points have got to be docked for those moves. I know that the intent was to bridge ‘Inani’ with closer ‘Alieni Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto,’ but it feels forced yet again, the kind of move that could work live but loses some oomph on disc here. There’s my main complaint (and the reason why this only gets a good rating instead of a very good rating): too many of these low moments feel like they are designed for a visual accompaniment. Even the most rollicking moments feel like they are incomplete without seeing the live performance here, even if this is a studio disc. It’s similar to how that SYR release where Sonic Youth played with Merzbow felt incomplete without the visual aspect, an interesting look on the nature of sound as it relates to imagery. For a person who never really got into the massive back catalogue of Acid Mothers Temple releases, this is a damn fine offering, marred only by its stubborn adherence to underwhelming aspects for the sake of “flow.” It’s not enough for me to flat out hate this, just enough to make things feel off. Don’t let that discourage in the slightest, for this is a gem for fans of experimental and Kraut. Photobucket