Review Summary: A moody, atmospheric, experimental and fun instrumental record from Motorpsycho, in cooperation with the theatre group “De Utvalgte” and author Carl Frode Tiller.
Created from the musical themes as performed by the band in the same-titled play, written by Tiller.
- As usual, you wouldn’t know exactly what to expect when there’s new music from Motorpsycho. They’ve worked through so many genres that your relation to their music could stem from pop, jazz, metal, prog etc. depending on your first experience.
Lately, they have released a number of limited records made as projects for different cultural institutions in Norway. Often differing in soundscapes and structures, you would still be able to recognize the band from it’s core elements as of late; Psychedelic, odd-metered, churning, rocking.
This time though, it’s a bit more difficult to recognize the elements that make up the sound of Motorpsycho.
“Begynnelser” is a play written by norwegian author Carl Frode Tiller, and it’s a backwards journey from death to birth (hence the title, beginnings), focusing on the different paths we choose through our life, while reflecting on questions of how much we are involved in the making of our own future. This is viewed through the main character as he encounters past situations and crossroads.
The live performance itself focused as much on sound and visuals as on drama, so the music was free to be right there in the center of attention, along with the actors. This shines through in certain parts of the record, as you pass by jazzy themes and preludes, into hypnotic loops and ascending crescendos that highlight the different parts of the story, coated in nostalgic melancholy, fear, loneliness and despair, as well as a fair portion of tongue-in-cheek humour.
Throughout the record, the soundscapes are dreamy - almost feverishly hazy - created by a mixture of live instruments, samples and loops that mimics old vinyl records, some of them creating an almost comic scene before they disintegrate, some of them building layers upon layers that creates menacing monsters of sound, and some of them gliding along in foggy, mysterious landscapes. Drums and percussion are almost completely absent on this record, apart from some bells and cymbals chiming from time to time, further contributing to the dream-like feel of the music.
Sometimes, the music feels reminiscent of Badalamenti’s score for Twin Peaks, sometimes it’s similar to the overwhelming contrasts of beauty and ugliness from musical genres like prog and post-rock, and sometimes, it’s just straight up gypsy jazz. It’s an eclectic selection of styles, to say the least.
The opening track lets you know from the first second that you’re in for a strange ride, and although this is the only cut that somewhat resembles what you’d expect these guys to be playing - judging from their recent material - it works great as an introduction to the surreal trip that’s ahead of you.
Notice, this is not a live record per se. It’s more like a summary of the themes that Motorpsycho worked with and improvised on when they performed live at the theatre, arranged to represent the storyline of the play.
And although some parts of the album feels somewhat incoherent and awkward, the overall impression is that of a really atmospheric and imaginative record, which - combined with great sounding audio production by long time collaborator Helge Sten (Deathprod) - makes for a strangely addictive listening experience.