Unknown Contributor Role: Daniel Richards.
Motorpsycho may not be a household name outside of Norway, but they are still rock royalty. Few bands have covered as much musical ground as this Trondheim unit. Founded in 1989, they have never made the same album twice and have established a loyal following across Europe, Asia, and North America. These psychonauts have pursued a restless path through indie rock and metal to space jazz, folk, country, noise, and psychedelic pop, to name a few genres. Given their relentless, explorative pace, they've never had reason to issue a retrospective until now. Supersonic Scientists: A Young Person's Guide to Motorpsycho was assembled for a retrospective exhibition at Rockheim, the Norwegian national museum of rock. This 25th anniversary double disc includes at least one track from each of the band's 15 "regular" studio recordings -- not including live, special project, soundtrack, EP, or collaborative albums. Curating this set must have been daunting, though it seems the rules assisted rather than hindered the process. Motorpsycho assembled this aesthetically rather than chronologically, as a proper listening experience, as if it were a new album. Helge "Deathprod" Sten remastered all tracks from the original masters. Given the large catalog, almost all the choices would be debatable among fans. Disc one offers a couple of inarguable choices in the sprawling "Vortex Surfer" -- which remains a live favorite -- and "Psychonaut." "Nothing to Say" dates back to 1993 when Deathprod was a member of the band, while "Starhammer," from 2010's Heavy Metal Fruit, is a riff-laden sprawler. The band's indie rock side is wonderfully displayed on the chugging "Starmelt/Lovelight." "In Our Tree" finds lead vocalist Bent Sæther sounding a lot like Graham Nash (with Crosby and Stills singing harmony) fronting Dinosaur Jr. Disc two displays another, somewhat gentler side of Motorpsycho, but doesn't remotely lag in quality. At a bit over six minutes, "Cloudwalker" amounts to gorgeous, proggy indie pop complete with cello. Commencing as a country-ish tune, "The Afterglow" transforms itself into a guitar-squalling power ballad. The sprightly, psych-drenched "Go to California," with its grooving flute and funky bassline, is almost as surprising as the accurately titled labyrinth that is "Serpentine." The band includes one long number on this disc in the 13-minute multi-textured "The Golden Core," which has a suite-like quality. As an introduction, Supersonic Scientists is a dazzling document. It offers grand evidence of Motorpsycho's various (and most often utilized) personas. But this collection is also worth purchasing by fans who have the catalog. Because of the way it's sequenced, it comes off as a familiar yet seamless dream, creating an entirely new context for the material. ~ Thom Jurek