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Pikacyu★Makoto – OM Sweet Home: We Are Shining Stars From Darkside

Riot Season

I’m in a marquee, somewhere in the midst of pre-Empire, pre fucking ‘Glasto’ Glastonbury. An odd hour. Somewhere just behind me, people are bartering over the price of admission to the Healing Pyramid: “Nah, mate; three quid each.” “Each? But it’s the same energy, isn’t it?” “If only it were, my son, if only it were (shakes head sadly)… you should see what the Orgone Accumulator guy’s charging…” There’s some variation of what might be a Hawkwind offshoot on stage (perhaps Nik Turner’s Fantastic Allstars, perhaps not) and they’re absolutely killing it. Sounds are being seared into brains, guitars and synths and even the goddamn saxophones are making the air swim. You’ve seen lots of bands attempt to wig out but these guys are doing it beautifully. The crowd are loaded with cheap pharmaceutical skullcaps, with mysterious packets of distilled animal spleen and they’re taking it all in, or trying to. There’s so much sound, so many whorls and whirls; this is the kind of thing that those travellers, now thick with Hepatitis and beeswax, told you Hawkwind were like. This band is the greatest thing you’ve seen and the next day you buy three of their CDs from a stall and find that they’re all utterly terrible. The moment is gone. You really wish you hadn’t bought that Jester’s hat too.

Pikacyu (Afrirampo) and Kawabata Makoto’s (Acid Mothers Temple) new collaboration sounds, in parts, like that band did at the peak of the flash. Even on nothing more lysergic than caffeine and coffee creams, they make a smiling, psychedelic cupcake of sound. The epic nine-minute sprawl of “Birth Star” (chants, drones, guitar swirls, drum-spats, Battles-like squeaky voices) sets things going after the slow Tibetan dirge of “OM Marijuana FU” and then, just when you assume that these two are gonna flip the hell out and start really wigging, they hold back a little and the next few tracks gently explore some odd angles vaguely reminiscent of the kind of thing Red Crayola might have sent to cassette-only compilations circa 1981, albeit through a far Eastern gauze. The first section ends up, in the middle of the album, with the beautifully simple, almost wordless ballad “The Ginger Chai.”

There’s a moment of silence before the second half begins. A sharp intake of breath before some very brief Beefheart tangents that lead into the hurdy gurdy drones of “OM Marijuana FU Part 2”, which might be a less intense, more playful Keiji Haino and then onto some simple drum slurtronics (the kind of thing Kempernorton gets up to, though with real drums). “AWA no UTA” is a child-like orchestral haze (that sounds positively Icelandic) and this leads into “Back to Your House Over the Rainbow”, an eleven minute exploration of Pikacyu’s voice which builds and builds and allows her to split into several vocal personalities and let fly while, behind her, Makoto keeps the voices in check with rising and falling OMhum guitar work.

This is a beautifully recorded album; all of the sounds are given room to breathe and play off each other. Nothing seems forced. It’s definitely one of the best things that either of the participants have released. I’d lost my way a bit with the whole Acid Mothers axis but I’m back on track now. This is a controlled psychedelia that sets itself a number of traps (“Okay, let’s just freakin’ go…”) and doesn’t fall into any of them. A remarkably restrained assault on the senses.


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