As you should know by now Motorpsycho’s deep back catalogue is reason for concern if you ever catch them live and need to catch a train back home. The Norwegians don’t have any intention to slow down and keep releasing work after work. Earlier this year the band’s umpteenth album, Ancient Astronauts was brought out on Stickman Records and Rune Grammofon.
The music on Ancient Astronauts is part of a soundtrack for a dance performance by the Impure Dance Company. Part of the score comes from The All is One (2020) but the other part was still to be written and recorded. Together with producer and former band member Helge “Deathprod” Sten at the helm, Motorpsycho recorded the rest of the score in 2021. The recording sessions were basically a live improv set but for some unknown reason did not deliver enough music for a full album. So the band chose to add an additional song The Ladder which is not part of the score.
Of the four tracks on Ancient Astronauts thus three are complementary to each other while opener The Ladder is the odd one out. Ather the fade in Ryan, Sæther and Järmyr attack us with some up to signature riffs, fuzzy baselines and solo’s. It’s the mellotron that brings the adventure which ultimately makes this song a good one. We just can not escape the feeling that The Ladder seems to be a leftover from last year’s Kingdom of Oblivion.
The fireworks start at the two minute dark ambient track Flower of Awareness which has clearly been touched by Deathprod. After two minutes of nightmarish sounds Mona Lisa/Azrael kicks off with King Crimson-like mellotron accords. From here an epic new Motorpsycho track unfolds. After four minutes of folk-like atmospheric feel the song explodes into frontal prog rock. The fast and tight drumming and shifting of pace by Järmyr and Sæther’s improv guitar solo is of top-level quality. After about eight minutes dark ambient tones return as a wrap up or you could also say lead into the album’s main course. Chariot Of the Sun – To Phaeton on the Occasion of Sunrise (Theme from an Imagined Movie) is not only one of Motorpsycho’s song titles but also is one of their longer songs.Clocking at 22 minutes, Chariot is a space rock masterpiece. After a quiet start with a soothing rhythm guitar and light electronica the band gears up with a bass filled riff. The riff serves a base to explore from. At first bright but watery guitars aimlessly go around but as the song progresses all gradually lines up towards a swirling prog rock song. Influences of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma-era or Yes are easily heard at this point. Hereafter Motorpsycho gears down to a lingering atmosphere and just when all seemingly comes to a standstill an unexpected short and heavy outburst stirred up the senses once more. Just like Lisa/Azrael, also ends in the same fashing it started so there are no questions left answering after Ancient Astronauts comes to a close.
Motorpsycho remains one of the most elusive rock bands that are out there. If you’re looking for adventurous rock music that every so often bridges the gap with other forms of music or even art styles you better join the Psychonauts right away. Ancient Astronauts probably won’t go down in history as their best album because of the strange addition of The Ladder but it does contain some of their best improv to date. Lastly we would like to express a big thank you to the band for fulfilling our ‘Kingdom of Oblivion-wishes” in hindsight to explore more and hook up with Deathprod. So, although you’re probably not interested in these writings, we still want to give you a nod!
Label: Rune Grammofon/Stickman, 2022
But it here: https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/motorpsycho-ancient-astronauts/
- The Ladder (6:40)
- The Flower of Awareness (2:13)
- Mona Liza / Azrael (12:14)
- Chariot of the Sun – To Phaeton on the Occasion of Sunrise (Theme from an Imagined Movie) (22:21)
- Bent Sæther – lead vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards, drums
- Hans Magnus Ryan – lead guitars, vocals, keyboards, mandolin, violin, bass
- Tomas Järmyr – drums
Review by Wander Meulemans // 281022
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