Review Summary: A mind-bending three-way between Daevid Allen, Acid Mothers Temple and University of Errors. Just don't get scared by that album cover.
Just take a minute and look at that album cover for Acid Motherhood
. Even before you listen to the music contained within, the sight of a seemingly pregnant naked woman with Daevid Allen's grinning face staring right back at you is enough to give some of the easily queasy a good nightmare. Worse still, listening to the mind-bending musicianship on this album whilst looking at that very same album cover-on drugs-will probably send you mad.
But less of that. Acid Motherhood
, unlike Zero to Infinity
, represents more of a collaborative effort between Daevid Allen's (then) American project, University of Errors (containing his very own son, Orlando Allen) and Acid Mothers Temple, a Japanese psychedelic rock group which has released over a hundred albums under several different names. Now, considering how bizarrely yet differently experimental those two bands are (and were 11 years ago, when this album was released), the mere thought of a collaboration between the two would have sent both bands' respective fan-bases into mental meltdown. Of course Daevid Allen had input, but nowhere near as much as on previous Gong releases with a different line-up, and certainly not as much as Gong's most ardent fans. Now, is this necessarily a bad thing" Far from it. Particularly if you like Acid Mothers Temple, Acid Motherhood
will be right up your alley. The album is considerably shorter than Zero to Infinity
, and is pretty much insane from start to finish. It never seems to stop. From the opening synth-rumble of "Ocean of Molasses" to the light-hearted yet still drug-induced closer "Schwitless in Molasses", the album seems like one massive deep journey into your very own mind's eye, and the worst thing is, you can never try to get away from it once you're drawn in.
Firstly, let's talk about what Daevid Allen had to do with the album's recording and songwriting. The songs which he is involved in-"Supercotton", "Olde Fooles Game", "Zeroina", "Brainwash Me" and "Waving"-are all excellent. In fact, those songs seem like some of the best songwriting material Daevid Allen had contributed to in years, perhaps even since You
. The sprawling eight minute "Supercotton", whilst not completely written by Allen, is mesmerizing from the get-go. The influences of Acid Mothers Temple are distinctive and notable, but with Allen consistently spouting out drug-induced mania like a homeless guy high on pounds of heroin, the song could only ever be matched to his wide-eyed musicality. Even the musicianship is superb. It spirals out of control at times, sure, but at least it keeps the listener drawn in, perhaps so much they can't get out. The rest of the aforementioned songs are light-hearted by comparison, but just as worthwhile. "Olde Fooles Game" is short but sweet, almost bordering on world music influence at times, and "Zeroina" has a heavy, driving riff throughout which nearly makes your brain crumble under the sheer weight. Indeed, Daevid Allen's penchant for mad musical ideas and sonic experimentation continued even when he was pushing 70 and beyond.
As said before, Acid Mothers Temple and the other members of University of Errors had an undeniably great influence on Acid Motherhood
. You can pick any song for evidence, but the gargantuan thirteen minute "Makototen" is stronger than anything else here. Essentially, the spiralling guitar riffs and long-winded synthesiser notes are enough to keep listeners interested, but over the top of those instruments are a carefully selected set of instruments to really bring the song to a majestic finish. There's the use of the bouzouki, courtesy of Kawaba Makoto (Perhaps his surname is a direct influence on the name of the song), which stretches beyond monotonous inclusion and almost becomes a song in itself (listen to "Bazuki Logix"). In fact, it presents itself as an instrument as important as the guitar on this album. There's also the use of percussion and Gilli Smyth's space whispers, both of which may or may not have appeared on Acid Motherhood
if it wasn't for Daevid Allen's well known presence. Nevertheless, Smyth herself appears on "Supercotton" and performs as uniquely as always, which really hits home at how much focus was put into the song-writing of the song itself. Perhaps the album needed more of her input, but when there's so much going on elsewhere, this can be forgiven.
may be a Gong album by name only, because of the collaboration of effectively three different groups. The fact that Acid Mothers Temple decided to invite themselves along for the ride says it all really, proving just how important and influential a musical figure Daevid Allen has been in the psychedelic rock underground. For the hardcore Gong fans, this album may be a bit passive, clearly because of the lack of influence by Allen himself, but it's more than made up for by other outside member, and few would argue that the musical content integrated by Acid Mothers Temple and University of Errors isn't worthwhile. It's undoubtedly another reason why Gong, whichever incarnation of the band it is, has always had the potential from start to finish to create excellent record one after the other. Above all, it represents how relevant band members as old as Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth still were, even when they were approaching that stage of life, which essentially is retirement.