fractal art catalogue touch artists links

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO UFO / Univers zen ou de zéro à zéro/ CD
Fractal 020


Dream Magazine N°4 - 2003 - (USA) :

The first track, Electric Love Machine begins as a loop of a Monkees riff; tension like before a storm, supernatural electrical discharges as it all erupts into this articulated monster of scrap metal shavings being melted into furious liquid electric guitar, while insane synthesizers fly around in mad elliptical patterns like a swarm of psychedelic bees in outer space as Cotton Casino gives cool if minimal vocalizations to the cacophony. The next track, Ange Mécanique de Saturne abruptly shifts pace to a tenderly fragile ten and a half minute showcase for Casino's tiny melodic folk singer voice and interlacing acoustic guitar and bouzouki free floating through a shifting ectoplasm of impressionistic keyboard watercolors that in part impart twittering birds and ascending insects. Blues pour Bible Noire is blues, a stark evil nocturnal primordial sort of blues. Again Casino's is well, if sparingly employed. A whole city wide blues articulated from the drains to the highest skyscraper, in a long howl of a million souls, it might also be homage to Fripp/Crimson's Starless and Bible Black the incredible over twenty two minute. Trinité Orphique is a short side trip atmosphere and monkish solemnity, before the epic Soleil de Cristal et Lune d'Argent is probably as close as anyone is going to get to Popol Vuh's prime until we end up in in Amon Düül 2's back yard doing the mushroom mantra while slow eons of expanding space and time are compressed into one orgasmic rising evocation that finally reaches paradise or at least a reprise of the opening vocal chant which recal AMT's La Novia. The final untitled track (God Bless AMT) is an over three minute tour of possibilities in their world, cartoony crazy voices jibber and vocalize, sing and growl in madly inventive schizoid glory before everything explodes in a supernova and springtime birds sing until the end of time. - 14/02/2003 (USA) :

God bless AMT. You know, in all the commotion over sorting through the silo of Makoto Kawabata related releases last year, it seems we plum forgot to write about the best one. Nothing personal, you understand, but sweet heavens he put out a lot of stuff. He’s still putting out a lot of stuff, not least of which are the “space opera” St. Captain Freak Out & The Magical Bamboo Request (which actually preceded this Univers Zen thing), Live in Japan, and the unnecessarily-three-parted Magical Power from Mars series. For most bands, issuing enough material for better than six LPs in a year would tip off their opportunist intentions to steal your money and valuable listening time. Hell, AMT probably are trying to steal your money -- but when the stash is a potent as even their least inspired hyper-comic overload, bang for the buck doesn’t seem like a major issue.

For the discriminating consumer (i.e., the ones who can afford a maximum of three new AMT records per year), the question of how Univers zen ou de zéro à zéro distinguishes itself amongst the band’s other records becomes paramount. I should note that finding a place to start in their discography can be a mind-enslaving task in itself, especially when you take into account compilations and reissues, almost all of which contain different tracks than the original releases -- even Kawabata couldn’t locate the cover of one of his records on the Acid Mothers website. All of that said, this record would be a very nice place for someone who had never heard the band to start, as well as being a watermark release for longtime fans. They didn’t have to make it so easy, but they did.

The opener, “Electric Love Machine”, takes its cue from the preceding LP, Electric Heavyland, in name and sound : The intro guitar figure and uptempo drum skiffle do little to prepare us for onslaught of distorted wah-wah mayhem and good old-fashioned psychedelic space noises that splash themselves all across the stereophonic plane. In the midst of this glorious mess, Cotton Casino’s vocal threatens, for one verse, to bring the noise back down to earth and into more traditional hippie jam-band realms, but then Hiroshi Narazaki’s (Les rallizes Dénudés) guitar joins with Kawabata and turns my speakers into ramshackle fuzz boxes with what sounds like two or three different solos happening at once. And yet, despite the general chaos, when Casino’s vocal returns, it’s apparent that AMT are playing their version of pop (verse - CCCCHHHHOOOORRRRUUUUSSSS - verse). But then the solos come back, and the space noises, and maybe I wasn’t really onto something there with the pop thing. But I’m catching up !

“Ange Mecanique de Saturne” is a very pretty lullaby/hymn featuring Casino’s entirely convincing childlike coo, and acoustic guitar played with more understated care than you’d think anyone involved in the previous tune would be capable of. Stepping back, the form is actually similar to “love Machine”, in its verse/really long solo/verse structure, but the execution is the key : Unlike most of their noisy peers, AMT have a way of bringing out aspects of psychedelia like wonder and naivet which Lend their more bombastic moments all the more impact.

The centerpiece of this album is the epic “Soleil de Cristal et Lune d’Argent”, beginning as an ominous, almost regal cosmic march, led by strident piano, crashing drums, acoustic guitar, and Casino’s disembodied, but persistent chant. AMT has often opted for lengthy excursions into the unknow, but have rarely sounded so mythic as they do on this piece. When the pace picks up for the middle solo section (see a pattern ?), anyone with even a drop of Pagan blood will be up in arms with glee. Casino and a host of other singers return for a finale almost operatic in its grandeur, and if I didn’t suspect that these guys would probably release 4-6 more in the next few months, I’d callit a masterpiece. On the other hand, I could just enjoy the moment ; AMT are making out well enough doing so.
Dominique Leone

All Music Guide (website : - February 2003 (Canada) :

Puzzled by this album’s title ? It belongs to Acid Mothers Temple’s list of tribute titles, although this time it doesn’t reference Jimi Hendrix or Frank Zappa. Univers Zero was a key developer of avant-garde chamber rock and took part in Chris Cutler’s Rock-in-Opposition movement in the late 70s. Is there any link between UZ and the music on Univers Zen ou de Zéro à Zéro ? No, not the least bit. This album stands as one of AMT’s strongest realizations, simply because it covers a lot of musical ground in exciting ways and with good enough studio sound to satisfy a selective listener without killing the trashy feel of the music. The album begins with a frantic space rock jam, “Electric Love Machine”. It propels a heavy guitar riff into interstellar space Hawkwind style -- i.e. without making a single pit stop and with plenty of synth sweeps. “Soleil de Cristal et Lune d’Argent” is more nuanced, starting from almost nothing, building into a jam frenzy (listen to it on headphones, there’s a lot of instruments buried inder the guitar drone), coming apart and starting over for an orgiastic finale. “Ange Mécanique de Saturne” is a trippy guitar-and-voice number, anticlimatic and haunting. “Blues pour Bible Noire” will enrage any blues purist : for 20 minutes it kicks around a simple 12-bar motif drenched in echo and avant-rock guitar solos. The album ends on an unannounced piece of strange vocalizing, adding that Dada touch fans of the group love. In an already crowded discography, Univers Zen manages to crawl its way to the top as one of AMT’s most representative albums. If you were looking for a place to start, you found it.
François Couture - 13/12/2002 - Website (USA)

Apparently, the floodgates have been completely washed away. As if the Acid Mothers Temple discography wasn’t dauting enough, in the past two months they have released 4 albums and 2 7”s. Add to that the slew of reissues they’ve had earlier this year, not to mention the many side (and solo) projects and main man Makoto Kawabata’s many collaborations, and “daunting” just doesn’t quite do it justice anymore.

First up : Electric Heavyland, released by the fine folks at Alien8. The title’s reference to the Hendrix masterpiece with a shift in mindset from a hippie utopia to bludgeoning rock is apt. Consisting of three tracks, Electric Heavyland stomps and thrashes its way throught just over 50 minutes of nearly unrelenting riff-heavy wailing. The Acid Mothers have held back in the past from allowing their freakouts to rise the deafining wall they revel in here, touching on, but never quite diving headlong into the maelstrom with this much bravado. Brutal.

Released on their own label is the Live in Japan album. Clocking in at over an hour with just three tracks, this serves as a great way to enjoy the Acid Mothers live set, whether you’ve seen them before or not. Having toured the world consistently for the past few years playing little more than this handful of songs, they’ve honed them to near perfection. The recording quality is incredible (16 track digital recording); I can’t think of a live release with this quality. The most notable difference from their standard live set is the presence of TWO drummers. Very nice.

Univers Zen Ou de Zero à Zero, a French import on the Fractal label, is the cream of this new crop. Pushing Cotton’s Casino’s vocals to the fore (her synths are often mixed higher than her vocals, or if not, they are manipulated beyond recognition into strange yelps ans squeals), this album has the most focused songwriting bend of the Acid Mothers discography. Whether it’s the gentle acoustic beauty of “Ange Mecanique de Saturne” or the apocalyptic bouzouki dirge “Soleil de Cristal Et Lune d’Argent”, this album is what the Acid Mothers have been leading up to with their numerous previous releases. If you get one Acid Mothers Temple album, I would make it this one.

Also on Fractal id the Electric Love Machine 7”. “Electric Love Machine” is the opening track on Univers Zen... and the single has a reworked version which is tightened up and much more direct (read : shorter and it has a more damaged guitar solo the entire way through). The B-side is a song called “Cosmo Chiva” which is Cotton’s vocal manipulations and synthesizer bleeps, but they have so many songs that use this as an intro that it feels kind of redundant here.

The fourth full length (in half as many months, really, it’s ridiculous) is St. Captain Freak Out & the Magic Bamboo Request (on Ektro). On this album, the fun side of the band shows through a little more than on any previous release. Fun, meaning schizophrenic and kind of goofy... think a touch of Beefheart or Zappa. There are some very strange vocal moments, like a good deal of tweaking the speed of vocals, and some disturbing manic giggling (on the verge of crying?) on “Angelic Bamboo Bambino Forever”. On the other side of the spectrum, “Man on the Holy Mountain” may be the most simple, beautiful folk-tinged song they’ve done.

Circle joined Acid Mothers Temple for a few dates on their recently finished “Magical Ministry Tour”, and to coincide with these dates, they released a split 7”. The Acid Mothers track, “The tombstone Phantom Drifter”, has one of their most fist-pumping riffs, covered in synth bleeps which leave enough open spaces to enjoy the music pounding away underneath. “Riemukaari” is classic Circle. It’s rhythmically droning, energetically locked in their two-note groove, and kept very minimal until dissonant horns and distorted guitar weave a strange noise over the now insistent beat.

This new batch of records from The Acid Mothers Temple are overall far more satisfying than their past records, offering everything the older records had, with a more tightly focused and sometimes more chaotic and free tendency. Univers Zen... is an absolute must for everyone.
Sean Hammond

Other Music NYC - November 2002 - Website (USA)

On their sixth official full-length release, the crazy bearded guys (and gals) of Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. have finally perfected the recipe. This record is closest in structure to their "New Geocentric World" in that it has a fairly wide dynamic range and is made up of more than three tracks (a whopping six, although the liner notes list just five), only two of which clock in over the 20-minute mark. "Univers Zen Ou De Zero A Zero" is a veritable orgy of sweaty psychedelic madness, replete with feedback, chanting, and guest guitar noodling courtesy of Hiroshi Nar, not to mention the contributions of Father Moo, who (according to the insert) provides a whole lot of moooooooooooooo. It's got all the heavy stompers, trance-inducing drones, and pretty sipping-tea-in-a-Japanese-garden ballads that a p!sych-rock fan could ever wish for. Another cacophonous/polyphonic/atonal/beautiful/ear-shattering treat from the AMT, and a perfect addition to their ever-expanding discography. [RH]

Downtown Music Gallery NYC - November 2002 - Website (USA)

My mind is reeling! Don't these psychedelic heroes ever rest?!? They must have some great magic mushrooms in Japan, how else would Kawabata and company continue to spew out so many mind-blowing releases, one after the other. Their second (less than a few months) gig this month at the Knit was even better than the first and those projections added even more spaced out effects to their already over-the-top set. And this time their token babe, Cotton Casino, even sang a bit besides chain-smoking and hitting a few notes on her backwards synth. 'Univers Zen' is a 71 plus minute journey which begins with "Electric Love Machine" - the intoxicating haze of wailing guitars, spacey synth, hard rocking rhythm team jamming. "Ange Mecanique de Saturne" features quiet, elegant acoustic guitar, delightfully coy vocals from Cotton and soothing Kraut-rock synth. The aptly titled "Blues pour Bible Noire" is a bluesy dirge for howling, squealing guitars and some fine on-going dialogue from their great electric bassist - Tsuyama Atsushi. "Trinite Orphique" is the sutble, space/rock/synth intro for their final odyssey - "Soleil de Cristal et Lune D'Argent", which sounds familiar, they must've done it live at their recent Knit set. Marching drums, more fine vocals from Cotton chanting "I stand in silence", intense, busy el. bass at the center, cosmic synth squiggles, bouzouki/rhythm guitar haze - building into an amazing Gong-like space/rock tour-de-force. Another welcome treasure from our favorite Japanese psychedelic heroes!

Aquarius Records SF - List 151, 29/11/2002 - Website (USA)

France's Fractal label gets into the Acid Mothers Temple game with this eagerly-awaited new album (we're told it's only their sixth studio effort, though we didn't actually count 'em ourselves). "Univers Zen Ou De Zero A Zero" starts off with some over the top heavy psych wankery (entitled "Electric Love Machine") that might be leftover from their Electric Heavyland sessions, but as with most AMT releases, you never know what's coming next! Track two marks a shift into more mellow pastures, as Cotton Casino's dreamy voice, acoustic instruments, and gentle synth washes make for a nice interlude, before some seriously droned-out howl comes in on the very next track ("Blues Pour Bible Noire") to hammer you for 20 or so minutes. Later in the disc there's another epic 20+ minute track of medieval psych ("Soleil de Cristal et Lune d'Argent") with Cotton singing/chanting over some lovely Amon Duulish drone rock, worth the price of admission alone. We've really got to admit, that despite their prolific output, Kawabata & Co. rarely disappoint, and this is yet another quite good Acid Mothers Temple release!
Note for serious AMT otaku: there's an unlisted bonus track that we think is the first studio version of their crazy vocal bit "God Bless Acid Mothers Temple", while the disc's very first track features a guest solo from Hiroshi Narazaki (former guitarist of Japanese '70s psych legends Les Rallizes Dénudés).

The Wire - n°226 - December 2002 (UK)

Univers Zen Ou De Zéro A Zéro is the third AMT album to appear in a month, but the group have yet to put a foot wrong. Its inspired grab bag of acid rock, space electronics and cosmic folk is just about different enough from the rest to make it desirable. Some freakout jamming features the dreamy "schoolgirl on acid"vocals of Cotton Casino more prominently than of late. But the closing live favorite, “God Bless AMT”, best sums up the group: a whacked piece of hyperglossolalia that treads the fine between lunacy and comedy with more conscious grace than any sane mind would be prepared to grant this bunch of freaks.
Alan Cummings - December 2002 - Website (Italia)

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O è il nome completo della formazione musicale generata da “Soul Collective”, eclecttica attività collettiva che fa capo al chitarrista giapponese Kawabata Makoto e nella cui orbita ruotano trenta eccentrici personaggi tra artisti concettuali, musicisti d’avanguardia, coltivatori (!?), etc.
A soli sei anni dalla fondazione, gli Acid Mothers Temple hanno già realizzato una dozzina di album; “Univers Zen ou de Zéro à Zéro”, terzo titolo pubblicato in un messe ed ultima fatica del gruppo, segna una tappa fondamentale nella loro ricerca sonore in studio: alla voce ed al sintetizzatore troviamo la minuta Cotton Casino, già nell’organico delle incendiarie Mady Gula, che contribuisce a rendere encora più sinistre le plumbee atmosfere del disco con vocalizzi da “studentessa in acido”; il pirotecnico basso di Atsushi Tsuyama, unito al devastante “drumming” lisergico di Hajime Koizumi, cosstituisce una delle più singolari e deflagranti sezioni ritmiche di sempre; le parti di chitarra “freakout” sono affidate al lunatico Hiroshi Higashi, un tempo eremita nelle montagne giapponesi (...), ed all’indiscusso leader Makoto, entrambi d’impostazione hendrixiana. Una menzione speciale per il talentuoso chitarrista Hiroshi Narazaki (ex Les Rallizes Dénudés, Zuno Keisatsu), ospite nell’album.
Le sei tracce contenute in “Univers Zen ou de Zéro à Zéro” mostrano un’intelligente sintesi di quanto accaduto al rock negli ultimi quarant’anni e rappresentano un febbrile connubio tra la musica elettronica di Karlheinz Stockhausen e l’hard rock degli anni’70 (Makoto non ha mai nascosto la propria passione per i Deep Purple), nei quali confluiscono musica cosmica (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream), krautrock (Amon Düül, Faust), ipnotico minimalismo a’ la Terry Riley ma soprattutto in cui si riversano le bizarre atmosfere psichedeliche dei Gong (Makoto e Cotton Casino hanno appena concluso una mini-tournée negli Stati Uniti assieme a Daevid Allen) e l’incedere progressivo dei Magma.
Il CD, disponibile presso il sito dell’etichetta francese Fractal, puo essere un ottimo strumento per avvicinarsi alla musica di un gruppo che, assieme ai Ruins, costituisce attualmente una delle più interessanti realtà della musica indipendente giapponese.
Mattia Paneroni

| Home | Fractal | Review | Art | Catalogue | Touch | Artists | Links | Distribution |