Kawabata Makoto - Hosanna Mantra
(Important Records) Keith Boyd 9.6.07
Editor's Note: My dear friend Makoto Kawabata brings his Acid Mothers Temple Brother, Tsuyama, to the Casbah on Wed the 12th with one of his parallel universe bands Acid Guru Mothers. If you want to see the best live act alive, go see this show.
Like the perennial un-carved block of Zen Buddhism, Kawabata Makoto is a man of infinite aspects and interpretations. To some he is the "Speed Guru" churning out record after record of mind-twisting sonic glory. To others he is a cosmic troubadour weaving rich tapestries of acid-infused medieval folk epics. There are other facets as well. An ambient cosmonaut charting unknown and chthonic caverns. A huckster of the highest order reeling off stoney Zappa/Beefheartesque inside jokes with little regards to logic or reception. With this many faces it all becomes a bit blurry when trying to figure out who this artist is and what he is up to. Perhaps it's best to say that in the grand tradition of mystics, magicians and shamen everywhere, he is all of them. What's wrong with that? A little magic from a trickster like Kawabata is EXACTLY what we need right now and he's done it again with his amazing new release, "Hosanna Mantra".
Best known for his front and center position in the Japanese ultra-mega-psych-noise-freak-out damage outfit Acid Mother's Temple, Kawabata Makoto is also an open fount to the universe of sound. Along with AMT and all of their various offshoots he continuously releases one-off projects that range from delayed out loops of bowed guitar to spacey, Eastern tinged ragas. His output is truly amazing and inspiring in its exfoliating volume. When I listen to his discs I feel privy to the artistic process of a man on fire. Each record stands as a snapshot of what was going down that day, at that particular moment with those particular musicians. That being said, one of the reoccurring strains in his music is a deep thread of Kosmische inspired, long form dreaminess. Kawabata has a deep sense of musical history and given the various references he scatters on album and song titles it's obvious that he's devoured the past 40 years plus of underground music. His latest homage to the golden years of world psychedelia finds it's inspiration in Popol Vuh's 1972 masterpiece, "Hosianna Mantra". On that album Popol Vuh switched gears from their previously electronics-driven musical palette and explored the ethereal possibilities of acoustic instruments. It is also a deeply spiritual album blending Christianity and Hinduism into a syncretic whole. Listening to both albums highlights the seed sound that originates in one and serves as a liftoff point to the other. Kawabata takes the mantra-like and cyclical patterns to heart and rides them out beyond the solar system. Although it is composed of four separate tracks, they all work equally well as one enormous piece. In fact the four pieces serve in some senses as movements highlighting various frequencies and moods.
What really gives this album its juice is the massively hypnotic and transcendent tonality. Midway into the first cut, "Scarlet Phenomenon" your mind has been transported to regions unknown and you just don't want to come back. Kawabata creates such an open mental playground of sound that you can imagine anything from celestial voyages to exotic rituals of pre-history. The warmth that swaddles your head leaves you in a cocoon of softness. This is not to imply even a hint of boredom or lethargy. A spiritual energy courses through this music that keeps you constantly on the edge of each unfolding moment; expectant and amazed. On track three, "Door of your Enigma" the addition of chanted vocals further heightens and broadens this appeal. On "Hosanna Mantra" Kawabata Makoto has created both a worthy tribute and managed to go beyond his inspiration. Whereas Popol Vuh's album is equal parts restrained formality and visionary voyage, Kawabata's gives free reign to the uncarved block of his impeccable prowess and in doing so comes up with a beautiful and lush listen.