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Live From New York

Pere Ubu, Manorexia, Growing & Acid Mothers Temple

By Published: April 26, 2010
Laska vocalised for most of the set, but her contribution was barely audible, at least assuming that she wasn't triggering other samples via her vocal cords. It was hard to untangle who was responsible for which sound in this dense, driving onslaught of rhythmically toughened primitivism. Their mechanoid mass was getting harder by the minute. The Growing approach is to keep on nagging at a minimalist trudgery, thickening with new layers as they march onwards. It's a cumulative technique that gives the impression of simplicity and directness. But if the audience cocks its collective ears until the juices run out of their burst interior pustules, untold subtleties will emerge. Ringing diversities, even.

These players are terminally introverted. At the finish, they appeared unable to deal with the positive reaction of the audience. They looked floorwards. After a pause, they smiled hesitantly at each other. It was that kind of music.

Acid Mothers Temple/Over-Gain Optimal Death

The Knitting Factory

April 7, 2010

Here were two bands of a swirlingly heavy, cosmo-psychedlic persuasion. On the sidewalk, just before the gig, a man was sighted in a Gong Camembert Electrique t-shirt. We knew that we were approaching the right place. The Knitting Factory must have been virtually at capacity. Upon entering the performance space, a wave of unwashed-hair aromas assailed the nostrils in the newly-dawned NYC gulf-streamed summer climate. Yes, we were certainly in the right place. A humid garden of alternative flora.

The opening Over-Gain Optimal Death were visiting from Los Angeles. This trio of guitar, bass and drums have been together for a couple of years. They levered straight into a riffage gross-out, dominated by their lead-picker's spiralling solos, each climax attaining greater levels of freak-out. The guitarist's between-tune pronouncements were swampily indecipherable. A voice in the audience called out for them to turn off the delay effect, but this was surely the only condition for him to speak: gurgles mimicking drug-tripping perception.

Surging though this OGOD combo were, they soon had to make way for their masters in the genre, Japan's Acid Mothers Temple. It's been several years since I've caught this crew, and their spacey synthesiser knob-twiddler Cotton Casino has now departed (in 2004). The band is currently trimmed to a four-piece, with Higashi Hiroshi spending much of the set filling Casino's old black hole, as well as switching back to guitar. In terms of lead-soloing action, this is still very much dominated by bandleader Kawabata Makoto, whose tendency to flail his axe in a suspended skywards direction is an attempt to visually approximate the cathartic peaks of his orgiastic aural expression.

At times, Shimura Koji's drumming locked into patterns that were too metronomically bullying, given the abstraction of the guitars. Bassman Tsuyama Atsushi also has a curiously arcane prog-folk enunciation to his vocals, calling to mind a twisted Okinawa-Canterbury twinning. It was everything else that made the greatest impact, and 'everything else' was Makoto's majestic guitar, caught in the almost perpetual act of peaking. There were times towards the end of the set where AMT appeared to be reaching an extreme plateau of abandon, even within the band's accustomed realm. In his ongoing quest for a higher place, Makoto spontaneously decided to hang his guitar from the rolled-up projection screen on the stage's ceiling. There he dangled it to feed back, exiting as he left the remaining band members to finish the set. It would have seemed like a subsequent encore was not advisable, but the foursome did indeed return, and their next stellar explosion still didn't suffer any effects of anti-climax.


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