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Mothers Day

Acid Mothers Temple is on a long, strange trip.

"Music came first, then the theory," he goes on, "and in a similar way for me, my own interpretation of these sounds doesn't matter. In addition, there is no need for me to reproduce songs written by other people, so I have no need for a grounding in musical theory. I may love contemporary composition and Frank Zappa, but I would never think to play music by the same methods they used."

Likewise, Makoto cut his own quixotic career path, moving from AKK to a dizzying number of groups, including Hedeik, or Headache, which teamed him with future members of Japan's foremost sonic anarchists, the Boredoms. He didn't earn much in the way of international acclaim, though, until 1996, when he launched his first Temple, dubbed Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (Underground Freak Out). A self-titled disc hit these shores in 1997, and subsequent tours, not to mention a blizzard of additional releases on a slew of labels, established Makoto as a crazed psychedelic visionary. Not that he's into psychedelics anymore.

"During my teens and twenties, I tried every drug I could lay my hands on," he concedes. "I take the view that life is one-time only, so you should try to experience everything once. But drugs have given me enough hints, and once I was able to create that effect through my own consciousness, then drugs themselves became unnecessary. Or, to put it more extremely, if you start relying upon drugs, then I believe that you will never be able to reach that unknown next stage beyond."

Mama says knock you out:  Kawabata Makoto 
(clockwise from foreground), Shimura Koji, Tabata 
Mitsuru, Okano Futoshi and Higashi Hiroshi are Acid 
Mothers Temple.
Mama says knock you out: Kawabata Makoto (clockwise from foreground), Shimura Koji, Tabata Mitsuru, Okano Futoshi and Higashi Hiroshi are Acid Mothers Temple.

To ready himself for this phase, Makoto remains attentive, diligently transcribing all the data that flows into his skull. "I always try hard to duplicate the sounds I hear faithfully," he asserts. "But on many occasions, I have no idea how to create those specific tones. That's why I am so interested in different instruments and ways of playing. Also, sometimes the music changes dramatically, so trying to grasp and remember it is extremely difficult. At times like those, all I can do is create an edited digest and try to get close to the impression of the music. But I try to go beyond my own subjectivity, because concentrating just on faithful reproduction of the sounds is not at all a 'creative' act. Maybe you could think of me as a realistic painter, trying to put down precisely on a canvas what I see in front of me rather than creating paintings that express something personal."

And if the strange transmissions cease? "I believe that as long as I keep hearing them, I will keep playing music," Makoto contends. "Once they stop, then I know that my mission has been completed, and I will stop."

Until then, he'll continue to be lost in translation.


Zen and the Art of Makoto

Like any philosopher worth his salt, Kawabata Makoto speaks in aphorisms. Not all of them make sense, but they seem like they should, and that's what matters. Some examples:

"What is sound but the vibrating of air molecules? The only question is your own sensitivity to those vibrations."

"I am not that interested in what other people are doing. If there are interesting musicians out there, eventually and naturally we will find each other."

"At the moment, I live in a temple on top of a mountain. The cries of birds and insects from neighboring mountains, right down to the trees in front of me, all seem immensely solid."

"Scenes? What is a scene, anyway? Do you think they still exist in our multi-dimensional 21st-century society? Wasn't it just a 20th-century hallucination?"

"People say that drugs make you hear things, but I believe that you are not hearing anything that wasn't there before -- merely, you weren't listening properly."

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