Motorpsycho — „Kingdom of Oblivion“ (April 16th, 2021)
Location: Trøndertun, Melhus ~ Trondheim, Norway
Genre: Psychedelic | Alternative Rock
Album release: April 16th, 2021
Record Label: Rune Grammofon
01. The Waning, Pts. 1~2 7:28
02. Kingdom of Oblivion 6:56
03. Lady May 3:21
04. The United Debased 9:03
05. The Watcher 5:03
06. Dreamkiller 5:15
07. Atet 2:16
08. At Empire’s End 8:35
09. The Hunt 5:45
10. After the Fair 1:57
11. The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker 10:55
12. Cormorant 3:37
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek. Score: ★★★★
•ƒ• Between 2017 and 2020, Motorpsycho were prolific. The Trondheim supernauts released an original score for Carl Frode Tiller’s play Begynnelser, then began recording and releasing the sprawling “Gullvåg Trilogy,” consisting of 2017’s double album The Tower, 2019’s The Crucible, and 2020’s The All Is One (another double). Along the way, the band demoed and worked up material that didn’t fit the trilogy’s aesthetic focus. Sidelined during 2020’s COVID~19 quarantine months, Motorpsycho re~examined the extant material. Discovering potential, they painstakingly rearranged, edited, re~recorded, and expanded 11 of the 12 tracks here. That said, Kingdom of Oblivion is not an “outtakes” or “odds ‘n’ sods” collection, but a carefully constructed, seamless new album that brings together all of Motorpsycho’s sonic hallmarks — from heavy riffs and melodic hooks to progressive interludes, and electronic and textural experiments, to wildly exploratory vanguard, prog, and psychedelic rock. Bent Saether, Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, and Tomas Jarmyr were assisted during the process by longtime collaborator, guitarist Reine Fiske (Dungen).
•ƒ• “The Waning Pt. 1 & 2” opens with swinging, blown~out guitar and bass riffs recalling Blues for the Red Sun~era Kyuss, while the post~psych melody and lush vocal harmonies suggest early Wishbone Ash (circa Argus). However, over seven~and~a~half minutes, Motorpsycho deliver so many musical and production asides these referents can’t contain it. The title track follows with an introductory set of crunchy metal riffs, but its loping melody slips the frame, weaving together strands of modern prog, psych~folk, and bluesy rock. “Lady May,” an acoustic ballad, hovers in the space between Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Guinnevere” and the dark guitar and bass interplay adorning Pentangle’s Sweet Child. “The United Debased” offers Deep Purple~esque guitar and organ vamps that introduce a soaring vocal amid thudding tom~toms, ratcheted snares, thudding kick drums, and a throbbing bass line. Mellotrons waft in and out as the guitar riff carves room for the lyric and a vocal bridge. Wailing six~string solos, jagged organs, and plodding bass riffs rule the day. After an alluring yet sinister cover of Hawkwind’s Lemmy Kilminster~penned classic “The Watcher” (from 1972’s Doremi Faso Latido), the requisite Motorpsycho heaviness emerges on “Dreamkiller” amid intricately constructed, melodic phases daisy~chained to gorgeous vocal harmonies. “At Empire’s End” offers intricately textured, tense, sonically elastic musical connections that exist in the no~man’s~land between King Crimson~esque prog, serpentine acid folk, and vanguard baroque pop. “The Hunt” juxtaposes stylistic elements from Motorpsycho’s Here Be Monsters, with musical traces that consciously evoke Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and Yes. The 11~minute “The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker” offers dizzying riffs punctuated by gloriously layered guitar and keyboard solos. The exquisitely sung harmony vocals guide the monolith as it careens toward the postapocalyptic edge with tense buildups and airy bring~downs, before concluding with a whispering bass line. Kingdom of Oblivion organically grafts trademark elements from Motorpsycho’s previous work and influences onto literally spontaneous musical discoveries. The album is a pillar of 21st century rock, adding dimension and depth to the band’s visionary legacy.
•ƒ• One would think that after the “Gullvåg Trilogy” — two double and a single album in a mere three years — this ultra productive trio might be in need of a break of sorts… but on the other hand, riding a golden wave like never before in their 30+ year existence, why stop now? Especially when constantly upping their own quality standards.
•ƒ• The bulk of the album was recorded in France back before the pandemic, but was added to, expanded, tweaked and eventually finished last year. The initial idea was to collect big riffs on one album and do a pure hard rock record, but the objective changed along the way as they rediscovered their folkish bent and how this lighter touch gave it all a nice contrast. That said, the main musical thrust is pretty full~on, even by Motorpsycho standards.