Just one day after the Guardian published a feature on 'The New Generation of Psychedelic Adventurers', suggesting not so much a revival as psychedelia becoming a touchstone for contemporary music which aims at a systematic derangement of the senses - and who should stroll into a local venue?
Exhibit A (aka Mainliner) are but one of the many side-projects of Acid Mothers Temple, featuring (in this incarnation) guitarist Kawabata Makoto, drummer Shimura Koji from the mothership, augmented by Bo Ningen bassist Kawabe Taigen. Their name, deriving from taking drugs in an undiluted form, couldn't be more appropriate. For the trio are channelling quite a specific moment in music history – 1969. After psychedelia had hit on heavy riffs, but before it got corralled into hard rock.
Typically, tracks start off with a squall of noise before plunging into a pummelling riff, often accompanied by space-chant scat vocals. Just when your eyes become spirals and your brain gets convinced it's all been going on forever so will presumably carry on in the same vein, it abruptly turns a corner into something else.
They can wring a surprising variety of sound from this formula. It's heavy... it's quite possibly heavier than heavy, but without ever sounding fixed or confining. It's deranged as a vision-addled shaman chewing dodgy roots face-down in a ditch, it's as disciplined as a marching army. It's music to, in Jim Morrison's immortal phrase, break on through to the other side. Possibly through the use of explosives.
My only complaint would be the occasional but persistent outbreaks of guitar heroics. Okay, this has all been put together by a guitarist and such stuff was an occupational hazard in the heyday of this music. But we're not after a note-for-note re-enactment, and we should be over all that all now. We want the psychedelia that passed safely through the filter of punk.
Though a short set, it seemed less a gig than a happening – and I can't think of finer praise than that, really. It really is hard to recount without lapsing into the vernacular of the era, and calling it “spacey,” “far out” or something similar. But then maybe, like that era, you simply had to be there.
Will a YouTube clip serve as a replacement? Probably not, but here's one anyway. From Birmingham, slightly earlier in the tour...
From an earlier incarnation of the band. But worth linking to anyway. You'll see why...