On this disc from German label Funfundvierzig, East meets West as two bands that travel similar (sort of) musical terrains come together for about an hour of music. There's a near equal sharing in those minutes, with two shorter tracks by Escapade and a longer, single track by Acid Mothers Temple. What to make of these two together? Well, the sonic trip provided (and considering the terrain is psychedelic, the word "trip" is most appropriate) will answer that.
Escapade start us off with a throbbing organ/synth note. Because Because Because starts sort of ambient, with neutered bliss replaced by a foreboding of intensity to come. Repetitive pounding, like marching robot mastodons, shifts the mood abruptly, jump starting the pulse in a nice sort of way. The intensity increases with the eventual addition of distorted guitar, a repetitive riff riding the beat. The whole tune has a mean Krautrock feel, like maybe Can's delinquent younger brother fresh from juvie. The opening scenes of our trip paint the terrain a dangerous thing.
AMT save the day. The long slowly morphing throb of European Sun is
mind-expanding weird. The pulse is all electronic with traditional
instruments swirled with synth and, get this, electric sitar!
There's a modern minimalism mixed with psychedelia feel to this
one, which seems a little like looking at Terry Riley through
a lava lamp. The slow, shifting intensity never really abates
or resolves itself. Rather, it simply grows organically, weaving
a sound space you maybe allow to recede to the background while
you clean house and worry whether hallucinogens are being pumped
into the local water supply.
Escapade take us home by bringing the rock dynamics back, creating a sort of pounding set of bookends around AMT's softer psychedelia. Transformation 2 starts squarely in Krautrock territory, with bass and drums doing a Neu!-like metronome pulse. This quickly ends, and is replaced by slightly sinister, shifting synth sounds that are eventually joined by tribal drumming. These elements stew a bit, with a dissonant guitar making an entrance and eventually closing the song. The tone is again one of unease and building intensity, which is a tad reminiscent of Pink Floyd before the arena ate them.
Adding it up, the whole is an interesting, if ultimately short-lived, marriage. AMT and Escapade are clearly too very different bands, with very different musical outlooks. AMT has a consistent meditative feel, an almost mystical bent even at a roar. But there is no roaring here, but rather more of a contemplative sound space with the spiritual feel more obvious. It might be a leap, but this seems a result of the Eastern cultural and traditional aspects that AMT embrace. It might be electric, but it stills seems like the sort of traditional music one might hear in a temple, though a mighty hip one. In contrast, Escapade make a Western noise. Where AMT go out, Escapade seem to head inward. Theirs is a music that seems less interested in liberation or ascendance and more colored by the horror of isolation and the constraints of physical existence. Those pulsing rhythms sound like the beat of a heart that is aware it will eventually die. To these ears, adding the two together creates a sonic narrative that points two ways out of the dilemma of breathing: transcend or embrace the flesh. The tension between the two bands is most satisfying and makes a beautiful shade of grey.