Acid Mothers Temple / Vars of Litchi @ Nice 'N' Sleazy, 9 November

Live Review by Sam Wiseman | 11 Nov 2011

The brilliance of virtuoso post-rock duos like Hella and Lightning Bolt has waned of late, stymied by its own frantic complexity, but Glasgow’s Vars of Litchi explore alternative possibilities of the setup. Where those acts maximise noise and speed, Gordon McDougal’s guitar parts expand horizontally, deploying loops to create deceptively complex, hypnotic riffs, by turns jazzy and Beefheart-esque. Combined with Jack Figgis’ simultaneously skittish and sharp-edged drumming, this approach somehow creates a sound brimming with ideas, yet always retaining a sense of space and openness.

Japan’s near-legendary psychedelic rock warriors Acid Mothers Temple, by contrast, aren’t known for their minimalism. Although the guitar workouts are tempered by some impressively-arranged throat singing, the set is dominated by deliriously heavy, repetitive riffs and frazzled soloing (quite literally, when Kawabata Makoto makes a few abortive attempts to set his guitar on fire).

Perhaps inevitably, the highpoint is a 25-minute version of Pink Lady Lemonade: a space-rock epic that is essentially a single riff repeated ad infinitum, which remains as dreamily engrossing as ever. AMT’s idiosyncratic psychedelia continues to play wilfully with rock cliché, and while their joyously indulgent approach bears few superficial similarities with that of Vars of Litchi, both acts deploy a wealth of ideas in a thoughtful and utterly compelling way.