Monday 17 May 2021

Motorpsycho - Kingdom of Oblivion (2021)

Country: Norway
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 9/10
Release Date: 16 Apr 2021
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It's hard to describe Motorpsycho in one word, at least without plumping for "prolific". This is another seventy minute album from them, which means a double album on vinyl even if it's only one CD. Their previous album, The All is One, was a quarter of an hour longer and spread over two CDs. I reviewed it last year and The Crucible the year before because they're releasing machines. This is the eleventh in under a decade, four of those were doubles, and their twenty-sixth over all, if I'm counting correctly. And yet the quality never seems to decrease!

This is different in a few ways from those prior two albums though. There are no twenty minute songs this time out, let alone forty five minute ones split up into five parts. The longest song this time out is The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker at a mere eleven, with as many two or three minute songs as seven, eight or nine minute ones. There's no dominant title track, Kingdom of Oblivion just one of a dozen. And there's no saxophone this time out, which renders this a little less jazzy and a little more psychedelic, while still remaining progressive rock.

I'd suggest it's a little heavier than those previous albums too, though Motorpsycho explore so many places in their music that it's hard to quantify that, especially as it doesn't stay as heavy as it begins. The Waning, Pt. 1 & 2 is built from chugging Black Sabbath riffs, Hawkwind fuzz and vocals straight out of the psychedelic era of the sixties. Kingdom of Oblivion shifts the vocals into a Peter Gabriel-era Genesis vein, if not as playfully wild, but it keeps that Hawkwind vibe going. Yes, this certainly starts heavy.

And yet, Lady May and After the Fair get exquisitely folky on us while The Watcher is more obviously prog, still a little Hawkwind but a lot Pink Floyd, bringing to mind that fertile period after Syd Barrett left but before The Dark Side of the Moon launched them to superstardom. I got serious Set the Controls vibes from it, which is never a bad thing in my book. The Hunt is especially playful and driven by flutes and drones, reminding of King Crimson but also of a teasing hypnotism. Cormorant starts out avant-garde but turns into Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac.

All these are enticing, well crafted songs (or, in the case of After the Fair, interludes), as are the many in between that I haven't mentioned. What really grabbed my attention, though, was Dreamkiller. It has delicate bookends that feel warm and comforting, whatever the strange noises in the background might be, but, in between, it hurls us into a maelstrom of activity, swirling melodies floating around a simple but epochal set of riffs and a thunderous beat. It's only five minutes long but it feels epic, like it represents an entire life-changing journey, birth to death or some such.

And I tend to feel that way about Motorpsycho albums generally. There's so much in them that, by the time I've worked through each of them, I feel like I've listened to a hundred albums. There's at least a couple of Hawkwind albums in here, a Genesis album, a King Crimson album, a few folk albums, half a dozen obscure psychedelic rock albums and whatever else someone might have slipped on while I was too engrossed to notice, maybe a composition by György Ligeti. Just to go from The Waning, Pt. 1 & 2 to Cormorant is a heck of a journey but there are far too many delights along the way for me to give a rating lower than 9/10.

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