Review Summary: The Motorpsycho explorer unit reaches the late '60s...
After almost three decades of multiple style changes and constant experimentation that brought to life roughly two dozen albums, each different from the other, Motorpsycho received the right recognition in their home country, Norway. They have become a museum exhibit, under the title Supersonic Scientists
. In order to capitalize this milestone, the band have also released an eponymous anthology which features favorite cuts from their vast discography along with a book that will soon be available in English too. In between these events, a couple of awesome concerts have been held, both with Ståle Storløkken. One involved a choir, a huge pipe organ and took place in a church (no spoilers – check out En Konsert For Folk Flest
) and the other at the Teknisk Museum for the centennial jubilee. The latter became the foundation of their latest LP, Here Be Monsters
. Since Storløkken was unavailable to expand his initial contributions, due to other commitments, the guys were left to their own devices to finish the album.
As a result of its live jamming provenance, Here Be Monsters
is a significantly lighter affair, shedding some of the intricate or hard hitting elements that characterized their last few albums. One of the main influence is the late '60s psychedelia most evident on their H.P. Lovecraft cover, ‘Spin, Spin, Spin’, a beautiful tune that harkens back to the hippie movement and the Summer of Love. They have always had a knack for sun soaked pop tunes and this cover really suits their style. Although Motorpsycho consciously crafted a softer album, it doesn’t reach as far as Phanerothyme
into psych pop territory, at times boasting a rather dark edge that unfolds on the final movement, the epic closer, ‘Big Black Dog’. Starting with mournful guitar picking and melodic dual vocals, it slowly descends into a paranoid journey where synthesizers take the lead. The chaotic intensity created backs the main lyrical theme, the long Arctic nights. Halfway, there are few moments of peacefulness, however, it dwells even deeper when the organ takes over. It shapes the sound, building again until it lets the guitars finish the track with hypnotic patterns.
Traces of Behind the Sun
are all over, mainly from its tender side, expanded on ‘Lacuna/Sunrise’, a gorgeous, laid back jam that shares a warm, deep bass line around which Pink Floyd-like guitars and keyboards bloom. Bent’s croon, often doubled by Snah, creates that lovely, friendly atmosphere, one of Motorpsycho’s trademarks. Meanwhile, the wandering instrumental, ‘Running With Scissors’ maintains that mid-Summer feel with acoustic strums, playful rhythms and chill solos, whereas ‘I.M.S.’ reprises some of those intense psychedelic moments. Borrowing some looping riffs from the acid rock sphere and abusing the high pitched bent notes, this warping tune completes the trip into the late '60s and back.
Motorpsycho have leveled up since the release of Heavy Metal Fruit
, an album that in my opinion revitalized their career, showcasing again a fresh approach to the compositions. They entered a prolific period during which some of their best works surfaced. Now, with Here Be Monsters
the band has steered onto a slightly different path, reaching further back into the psychedelic age. The album ends up somewhere between their early '00s output and Behind the Sun
, a landmark in their career for me (along with Phanerothyme
). This lovely journey offers both lush and haunting moments without sacrificing any of the experimental edges or familiar sounds. It might not be as encompassing as the two LP above, yet they have done a damn great job. The trio’s golden moments are far from being over and I am curious to see where this direction leads to.