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Motorpsycho - The Tower CD (album) cover

THE TOWER

Motorpsycho

 

Eclectic Prog

4.04 | 162 ratings

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chelloveck
5 stars When drummer Kenneth Kapstad jumped ship in May 2016, after a brilliant nine year tenure, which revitalized the duo of Bent Sæther and Hans Magnus 'Snah' Ryan, there were doubts as to whom would be able to replace him in the drumstool. After spending the remains of '16 writing and performing music for the play «Begynnelser» («Beginnings»), the band announced in January '17 that they had found the replacement; swedish drummer Tomas Järmyr, student at the conservatory in Trondheim, and a member of such bands as YODOK and ZU. After just a few months together they travelled to California in March and recorded the material which would end up on «The Tower». The more hard-hitting material was recorded at White Buffalo in L.A., while the more pastoral was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree. Well, enough background. What about the music?

The first thing long time fans would notice is that the songs are more heavy than they have been for quite some time. It seems that the introduction of a new drummer has given the two old-timers an injection of energy, at least if one is to compare this album with Kapstad's last album with the group; «Here be Monsters». In a way, it is comparable to the revitalization Kapstad gave the group, which was shown on «Little Lucid Moments». The first three songs all share this heaviness, although they are quite different. The opening title track is the most proggy of the three, with a healthy dose of mellotron, a great "symphonic" main riff, and a long, multi-part instrumental section in the middle. Great opening. The symphonic tendensies continue on the next track, "Bartok of the Universe", although this a bit more heavier, and conventional in structure. The verses are a great example of the band's ability to create lovely, melodic vocal parts against an aggressive backdrop. A top three track for me. The third track, "A.S.F.E.", meaning 'A Song for Everyone' harkens back to their 90's period, with just a droning riff repeating for seven minutes, with a few variations thrown in. Think Sabbath-meets-krautrock. An okay- ish song, although it does not live up to the standard of the first two tracks.

After the explosiveness of these opening three tracks, there is time for a little psychedelic excursion, which comes in the form of "Intrepid Explorer". The first few minutes are devoted to a mellow and charming vocal part, before we head into space with a seemingly endless buildup, which in my opinion no band does better. Certainly an acquired taste, but for me this js a certain winner. In order to catch one's breath, we are then given the acoustic track "Stardust", laden with CSNY-style vocal harmonies and a touch of mellotron. A pleasant and necessary change of dynamics. It's back to the heavy style with the sixth track, "In Every Dream Home". A great classic rock-vibe sets the tone, including an absolutely facemelting guitar solo from Snah. In the middle there is a change of pace, when Alain Johannes comes in with a flute-part akin back to 70's style prog. A great, and varied track. The vibe from "Stardust" is reintroduced in the next track; "The Maypole", although with a bit more energy here. A very uplifting and pleasant track.

The third to last track, "A Pacific Sonata", is the longest on the album, clocking in at almost 16 minutes. The first eight minutes are devoted to a beatiful CSNY-style ballad, including a heavenly guitar solo from Snah, when this part is done and dusted, Sæther starts to play a quite hasty bass riff, which leads the way for further psychedelic exploration for the remaining minutes, before the opening vocal part is repeated at the end. Probably my favorite track on the album. The penultimate track is the heaviest on the album. "The Cuckoo" starts with an atmospheric mellotron intro, which soon erupts into a doom metal-ish riff. Again, the influence of Sabbath is quite evident. Apart from a short and mellow bridge, this is pretty hardhitting for all of its seven minutes. A good track, but not enough to reach the pantheon. The last track, though, is worthy of consideration. "Ship of Fools" clocks in at around 15 minutes and start of with a repeating piano motif, which goes on for quite a bit, until it enfolds into a proper prog epic. The first five minutes are majestic and uplifting, with great vocal parts, before turning to introspection and a more darker vibe for the remaining minutes. Great, great track.

I will never fathom how these guys are able to churn out quality music at the rate which they are doing. After just three months with a new drummer, they are able to produce a double album with 80 minutes of music, and 95 % of it works perfectly. A real tour-de-force album. I have not mentioned the playing of Järmyr yet, but as you surely would have understood, he fits into the mold perfectly. He is not as 'wild' as Kapstad, but they both have the jazzy touch and knack for improvisation, which is so important for thia band. So to sum up: check out this album. A package full of diversity and fun.

chelloveck | 5/5 |

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