In 1998, Acid Mothers Temple went on a swing of the UK that sowed the seeds for a new cosmic unit, Rebel Powers. Kawabata Makoto, Cotton Casino and original AMT drummer Koizumi Hajime met up with David Keenan, guitarist for Glasgow’s Telstar Ponies and prominent scribe for London’s premier new music mag The Wire, and holed up in South London’s Moat Studios to let the heavenly river flow. With legendary engineer and Moat head honcho Toby Robinson behind the boards (who has worked with Stockhausen and has recorded the likes of Ash Ra Tempel, Fushitsusha and Derek Bailey), the circle was complete to adequately document the happening. The result is magic, but magic of an entirely different sort of conjuring than one would expect. Not One Star Will Stand the Night is the eerie debut release by Rebel Powers, a lonely, sorrowful wander through stark tonal passages and cinematic despair.
Rebel Powers explore minimalist sound layering via two long, improvised tracks. Sustained guitar notes resonate and sarangi buzzes swirl while chiming waves of concrete percussive clatter and plaintive vocal wails slowly build momentum. Sounds are methodically layered and gently peeled away, revealing a ringing guitar chord or two at its very core. Pools of sound shimmer and meticulously waver as each note strikes its placid surface, building and building an ominous mood with glacial intensity towards the psyche’s breaking point. Imagine the sort of dark themes and tolling guitar found on Popol Vuh’s soundtrack to Nosferatu, oozing ever forward and serenaded by the hypnotic call of the mythical Siren. Minimalism is certainly the order of the day, but a sort of minimalism that has been rendered catatonic, eerie, otherworldly. Not One Star Will Stand the Night is an austere lament, a subtle rendering of apocalyptic imagery, as if humanity’s ghosts are crying in judgment over an entire history of reckless folly.
With just guitars, percussive rustles, intermittent sarangi and vocals, Rebel Powers evoke a meditative sphere to get lost in for days. Aside from sarangi, there are no overdubs present, and the music was completely improvised. Not One Star Will Stand the Night is a harrowing lullaby, an unfurling study of the soul laid bare.