Review Summary: MOTEK offer up a genre-bending release that showcases both ingenuity and maturity.
The Belgian experimental outfit MOTEK is a collective of artists - in every sense of the word. They use imagery to inspire music and music to inspire imagery. This flow of creativity is harnessed through lengthy jam sessions which are recorded, analyzed, and deconstructed, ultimately to be pieced back together and fashioned into something new and complete. This approach also extends into video, which allows the group to create their immersive audiovisual live performances.
An untitled debut was released through the group’s own label, Asthmatic Whale, in 2006. MOTEK would go on to garner a good bit of attention playing various audiovisual and art festivals around the world. Enough, in fact, to provoke EMI Belgium to create a daughter label on which to sign them. The newly minted indie label, Noisesome Recordings, has since become a host for the experimental edge of Belgium’s younger music scene. Port Sunshine
, the band’s sophomore effort, was released in 2008, gaining them further press attention and a broader fan-base. While MOTEK’s humble beginnings are rooted in post-rock, their music has evolved with influences ranging from electronica to math-rock. 2010’s Dragons
sees these influences culminate and coagulate into a beautifully homogenous album that remains difficult to file away under any category.
MOTEK’s third full-length boasts songs teeming with post-rock ebb and flow while exuding plenty of indie charm. The music tends sway about like a playful breeze but can pick up gradually and often inconspicuously to become a powerful gust of emotion and atmosphere. Effects-laden guitars provide the framework for most songs, supported by a simplistic, pulsing rhythm section, and entrancing keyboard melodies and effects. The rich production allows each element to saturate the listener while not overwhelming. Vocals are sparse but often prove powerful, as demonstrated through the melancholic drone of “Kobenhavn.” Lead single “Abused” finds the group channeling an updated Depeche Mode - and to great effect. Dragons
shows just how diverse and dynamic these artists can be but maintains a sort of loose cohesion that makes it such a success as an album. Each song could easily be enjoyed on its own but also make sense as a whole.
In reaching out to a broader audience, MOTEK have birthed a unique sound and style. They’ve given us a record that’s accessibility can at times mask its creativity and subtlety. As the group continues to carve out its niche, hopefully the ideas utilized here will be refined as new ones manifest. Dragons
shows a band that has grown immensely, and with the creative prowess at play, will more than likely only prove to improve.