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Motorpsycho (Norway): Here Be Monsters [Digipak]

Track List

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Album Notes

Personnel: Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan, Bent Sæther, Kenneth Kapstad, Tommy Henriksen (vocals).

Audio Mixer: Tommy Henriksen.

Recording information: Brygga Studio (02/2015); Kommun' (02/2015); Nidaros Studio (02/2015); Orgelsalen Ntnu (02/2015); Rockheim (02/2015); Supersound (02/2015); Brygga Studio (05/2015/06/2015); Kommun' (05/2015/06/2015); Nidaros Studio (05/2015/06/2015); Orgelsalen Ntnu (05/2015/06/2015); Rockheim (05/2015/06/2015); Supersound (05/2015/06/2015); Brygga Studio (07/2015); Kommun' (07/2015); Nidaros Studio (07/2015); Orgelsalen Ntnu (07/2015); Rockheim (07/2015); Supersound (07/2015); Brygga Studio (10/2015); Kommun' (10/2015); Nidaros Studio (10/2015); Orgelsalen Ntnu (10/2015); Rockheim (10/2015); Supersound (10/2015).

In 2014, Motorpsycho accepted a commission from the Teknisk Museum to play its 100th anniversary. That concert offered the musical basis for what would eventually become Here Be Monsters. Though the material was composed and rehearsed for the show, it was performed only once -- with occasional member, keyboardist Ståle Storlokken (Supersilent, Elephant9) as part of the lineup. Discovering the myriad possibilities in the music they composed and performed, Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan, bassist Bent Saether, and drummer Kenneth Kapstad decided to cut it in a proper studio with co-producer/engineer and keyboard player Thomas Henriksen. (Storlokken was unable to participate due to time constraints.) There are six originals and one cover, of H.P. Lovecraft's psych arrangement of Terry Callier's 1968 folk-soul classic "Spin, Spin, Spin." Motorpsycho sound (at least initially) a bit gentler than they had, but no less adventurous. Influences from Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, and even the Grateful Dead, Porcupine Tree, and Mogwai wind through these tunes, but the references can't contain them. Motorpsycho's love of West Coast psychedelic pop is also employed as a jumping- off point in some outwardly spiraling, jam-oriented pieces like "Lacuna/Sunrise." Nearly ten minutes long, it's a slow crawl through melodic inner space, augmented by a warm, pulsing bassline, lush, silvery guitars, and drifting Wurlitzers. The vocal harmonies wrap a simple melody in silken music while the words underscore what the album is actually about: A person whose mind is slowly coming apart. "I.M.S." (an acronym for Inner Mounting Shame) is introduced by two classical pianos playing repetitive, descending, contrapuntal scales before a distorted, aggressive, bluesy lead guitar solo slices in ahead of popping snares and a pulse/drone bassline (think Loop). When the multi-harmony vocal melody asserts itself through the cacophony, it resembles Deja Vu-period CSNY (think "Carry On"), but Motorpsycho is unable to contain its desire to rip the lid off and head for the stratosphere. "Spin, Spin, Spin" is gorgeous with its Baroque organ and layered acoustic and electric guitars supporting unusually sophisticated vocal harmonies. The 17-minute "Black Dog" suite is worth the price of admission by itself. The first third is gossamer, with shimmering guitar, lilting piano, and carefully scripted harmonies sung in rounds. A Mellotron enters amid the vocal repetition, adding the illusion of strings. The dynamic tension increases and fades before re-emerging with a doomy hard rock riff, full-on tom-toms, and kick drums that collectively erupt into a doomy, droning mass of psychonaut glory. The only things holding it to ground are the vocal rounds that lend an elemental folk quality to the sonic sprawl that continues from here, alternating in force and gentleness. Beauty and violence battle and exchange to balance the scales. Here Be Monsters continues the prog-space adventure that Motorpsycho began on 2010's Heavy Metal Fruit, but this set explores the vastness of inner space. The arrangements are exquisite, the textures multivalent, and the emotional resonances cavernous, intuitive, and expressive. ~ Thom Jurek



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