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Norway’s prolific psych-rock-jazz-pop-country-prog titans Motorpsycho have been on the form of their career lately, with new(ish) drummer Kenneth Kapstad well and truly settled into the unit as they blazed through their last two epic concept albums, stretching the limits of their galloping psych grooves into continually new and unexplored territory (and who would have thought they even had territory left to explore at this point?). During that period they’ve written about 20 songs which didn’t fit with their album concepts, and this is an attempt to mop up the most complete of those on a new studio album. To keep them on their toes, they got their buddy Reine Fiske (who you may know from his band Dungen or his contribution to Elephant9’s smashing ‘Atlantis’) to join on second guitar in all but one of the five songs on this rare single-LP offering.
Whenever Motorpsycho do a single LP it kind of feels like a stop-gap between epics, but it does make for more focused collections. Here they leap out of the gates with the ten-minute Fiske-free ‘Hell, Part 1-3’, a bounding rocker with some tasty Thin Lizzy-esque dual guitar heroics. Then Reine joins in, first for a romp through Love’s ‘August’, and then we get to ‘Barleycorn (Let It Come/Let It Be)’, where the proclamatory vocal harmonies have a slight ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ feel over a brilliant stop-start riff with Hawkwind-esque electronic squiggles - it’s the anthem of the collection much like the title track on their most recent single LP place-saver ‘Child Of The Future’.
‘Ratcatcher’ starts with some bubbling free chunter before kicking into another fun and anthemic chorus with gang vocals and insanely busy drumming, which drops down into a great little jazzy jam which crackles with cosmic energy, and then builds up to a chorus, and then drops down to another jam...it’s epic alright! Then closer ‘The Afterglow’ is a lovely little slightly countryish ballad that wouldn’t be out of place on one of their pop-era albums like ‘Phanerothyme’ or ‘Let Them Eat Cake’, and it’s one of their better slowies too. It’s really warm and wistfully nostalgic with shades of the Smashing Pumpkins in their heyday...a perfect album closer.
This isn’t the super-ambitious tour de force that ‘The Death Defying Unicorn’ and ‘Heavy Metal Fruit’ are - in fairness and honesty, it’s the sound of a band having fun and cutting loose after a couple of very serious, ambitious and labour-intensive projects for a comparatively “insubstantial” 45 minutes of self-assured genre-jumping psych rock fun. If you’re new to the band, ‘Trust Us’ and ‘Death Defying Unicorn’ are the places to start, but if you already like them, this is the audio equivalent of putting on your favourite slippers and smoking a big greasy spliff. Enjoyable from start to finish, it’s indulgently brilliant stuff from the masters.
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