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4 stars Another year, another Motorpsycho album. Still Life With Eggplant is considered a "leftover" album, consisting of songs written for Heavy Metal Fruit and The Death Defying Unicorn, but not making either of those albums for various reasons. So don't expect a unifying concept on this album.

The album starts off with a blast in the 10 minute "Hell, Part 1-3". Starting off with a slow tempo to introduce the main theme, it soon speeds up and becomes a heavy psychedelic rocker. Great guitarsolo midways, but after 7 minutes it just slows down completely for a quiet outro totally out of sync with the remainder of the song. Still a great song, though.

"August" is a cover of the Love track from the 1969 album "Four Sail". The original was a very cool freakout, and this version isn't all that different, although it is tighter and with new millennium production values. Textbook cover, but a nice homage to the songwriting of the late Arthur Lee.

Then we mellow out a bit with "Barleycorn (Let It Come/Let It Be)". Acoustic guitars are prevalent on this one, and shows a slight pastoral vibe al Trespass/Nursery Cryme. Gentle vocals brings Crosby/Stills/Nash to mind, and the song has a nice psychedelic aura.

"Ratcatcher" is by far the longest track on here (17 mins). It's also the one where Reine Fiske makes his presence best felt, having a guitar showoff with Hans Magnus Ryan. 15 minutes of this track is basically improv, and very much reminds of The Grateful Dead's style of jamming, albeit in a high energy musical setting. It is probably the biggest track of controversy on the album; not every one will have this one to their liking. I do like it, even if I find it slightly overlong (the last 3 minutes feel sorta forced) Still impressive, though.

The album finishes on a slightly more conventional note with "The Afterglow". A ballad with some lovely playing (especially the mellotron and the slide guitar is gold) and somewhat nostalgic lyrics. Add to it a heartfelt vocal delivery from Bent Sther and more nice acoustic guitar-playing, and you have a natural conclusion to this album.

The 5 stars disappeared because of a couple overlong songs. But a solid 4 star rating for this release. And another solid album from this Norwegian cult band.

Report this review (#944130)
Posted Monday, April 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Still Life With Eggplant" is the 15th full-length studio album by Norwegian psychadelic rock/hard rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Stickman Records/Rune Grammofon in April 2013.

After releasing what is arguably their most progressive effort to date in "The Death Defying Unicorn (2012)", were back in more familiar psychadelic rock/hard rock territories with "Still Life With Eggplant". The music is playful, jamming and laid back. Fuzzy guitars/bass, organic drumming and dreamy mellow vocals (at times the vocals remind me of mid-70s Wishbone Ash). The tracks alternative between structured sections with vocals and more loose jamming sections. Typically with guitar solos and organic rythmic playing not completely unlike artists like Jimi Hendrix and Cream. The jamming drags on slightly too long in the 17:10 minutes long "Ratcatcher" but otherwise I think the material on the 5 track, 45:07 minutes long album, are pretty well balanced. The sound production is detailed, warm and organic, which suits the music perfectly.

The band are exceptionally well playing. A confident, tight and organic sounding unit. Paired with the warm and organic sounding production this is pure bliss to my ears.

"Still Life With Eggplant" is not nearly as adventurous as its predecessor, but if you ask me, Motorpsycho are best when they rock out and in that respect "Still Life With Eggplant" is a more interesting album than "The Death Defying Unicorn (2012)" (which is more interesting than "Still Life With Eggplant" in some other areas). Their diversity is one of their strengths though and I wouldnt have it any other way and enjoy most of their output however "different" some of it are. "Still Life With Eggplant" might be one of their more "safe" efforts but but its still a very strong release and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#991948)
Posted Friday, July 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've never quite fallen under the spell of Motorpsycho but after last year's sophisticated rock opera, The Death Defying Unicorn, and hearing that Reine Fiske had been lured on board for this one, I couldn't resist.

1. "Hell Parts 1-3" (9:47). The first "part" of this song--which contains a multi-layered harmonized vocal--reminds me very much of an amped up CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG circa 1970. Around the 4:50 mark an instrumental section begins which reminds me very much of the work of EDGAR WINTER GROUP and around 1973. The third part, beginning at the 7:15 mark, is a stripped down, funky instrumental section set up to support a kind of HENDRIX-like solo guitar display by Reine Fiske. Okay song with nothing particularly ground-breaking or earth-shatteringly engaging. (8/10)

2. "August" (4:53) opens with a CREAM-like intro before settling into a kind of Southern Rock groove. The bridges between the first two vocal-supporting A Sections are interesting and unusual--kind of Zappa-like. The guitar solo section is also entertaining though it's nothing better than anything the Allman Brothers did. (8/10)

3. "Barleycorn (Let It Come/Let I t Be)" (7:19) begins auspiciously like the TRAFFIC song of its namesake. The vocals enter with a whispery approach and are then amplified and multiplied as the singers wind up for the "Let it come, Let it be" chorus section. The second A Section is quite magical with the play of the slide guitar, more animated drums, and heavier sound. By far the best sound of the album so far. Nice guitar solo against this same storm- like musical background until the 5:00 mark when things back off and quite down for a bit. But then, instead of the expected reappearance of vocals the guitar solo continues and the band starts building toward a crescendo and then the vocals rejoin! Awesome song with some great spacey sounds working their way in and out throughout and some really nice multi-layered vocal work. (9/10)

4. "Ratcatcher" (17:10) begins with about 90 seconds of some spacey-echoed guitar pickings and arpeggios before the bass, keys, and guitars kind of go off each in their own "tuning" directions. Then suddenly with a burst at the 2:15 mark, the band bursts forth in full song unison (somewhat reminiscent of the sound and style of the final two songs on The Death Defying Unicorn). A vocal section begins before the song wanders off into a prolonged "solo" in which two guitars explore their psychedelic freedom over some awesome jazzy support from the drums and bass. Both guitars are quite interesting to follow but I find myself drawn more to the drumming and bass playing each time I listen to this section. At 8:40 the song begins to sound like everybody is coming back together but instead a more Neil Young-styled guitar solo ensues in the left channel while the right channel's guitarist plays a more chord-oriented support role. At 10:55 Fiske signals his return to the fold and soon the vocals rejoin?all this going on over the awesome play of the rhythm section. At 12:15 the shout of "Ratcatcher!" signals the end of that section. Everything slows and winds down like a dying watch until the 13:35 mark where first a single guitar picks out a little melody, then the second guitar joins in and the more subdued drums and bass rejoin, this time in support of the right channel guitarist's extended though quite mellow solo. Again, I can't help but tune into and enjoy the subtle playfulness of the bass and drums during this section. The song's final 90 seconds are left to the heavily effected psychedelic soundings of the two guitarists. Cool song kind of in the vein of country-mates MY BROTHER THE WIND, except with a bit more structure and, of course, vocals. (9/10)

5. "The Afterglow" (5:57) is a fairly gentle rock song sounding incredibly similar to some of the acoustic guitar-based vocal sections of Toby Driver from the 2001 MAUDLIN OF THE WELL albums Bath and Leaving Your Body Map. Even the chord sequences from the second section in which the whole band has come together are SO moTW! (though there is a little RADIOHEAD-like guitar play going on with it.) At 3:20 the rhythm and sounds take on a much more 70s CREAM-like feel before falling back into a kind of CSN& Y/ YOUNGBLOODS/ALLMAN BORTHERS music style and sound (including some cowbell!). Nice guitar solos beginning around the 3:30 mark. The vocals from the 4:45 mark on are screamy in a BECK Odelay-kind of way. I like this song very much. (9/10)

Though there are no songs that really knock my socks off on this album, it is a solid, creative, melodic, and enjoyable listen--especially as one gets past the more mundane first two songs.

Four stars: Recommended to all music lovers.

Report this review (#1100782)
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Motorpsycho are an amazing band that have the power to mesmirise and inspire with their brand of heavy prog. The album that blew virtually everyone away is "The Death Defying Unicorn", a masterpiece that became a cult in the prog community, and one of the albums of the year for 2012. I remember how the music lifted me into another plane of existence as it simply nailed me to the couch with its inexorable power. The music blew the doors off any boundaries that may have been set in place for music convention and it was wrapped in a concept package. This time around with "Still Life With Eggplant" the band discard the concept and go for a bunch of diverse tracks that are boundary pushing but nowhere near as innovative as the previous album. They set the bar so high that it was almost impossible to reach those heights again I would suggest. In any case the album is still packed with some powerful tracks and wonderful musicianship.

It opens in a blaze of glory with 'Hell Parts 1-3' that has that deep resonating stoner guitar riff and psychedelic style of vocals. The riff jams along locking into place as the band launch into a jam and then it ends with a totally different melody outside of the previous form. It feels like a coda tacked on but it works well enough.

There are some grandiose spacey lead guitar breaks such as the lengthy break on 'Barleycorn (Let It Come/Let It Be)'. The intro has the same feel and melody as the Traffic song 'John Barleycorn Must Die' and this is intentional as it pays homage to the Traffic style. It sounds like a 70s song lifted from a Cream album or Traffic in all respects.

There is a mammoth epic on the album that clocks into 17 minutes, 'Ratcatcher' and this may wear its welcome out after so many minutes of free form jamming. The intro itself is ultra spacey and I love the way the bass builds into the soundscape. The glissando tremolo guitar reverberations are akin to the type of guitar on a Hawkwind album, and the style is totally removed from other material on the album. It suddenly launches into a freakout of pulsing bass, pounding drums and duel guitar licks. The vocals finally enter multilayered and psychedelic, "Save me, is this heaven or hell, ratcatcher!" I was reminded of another modern psych prog band The Ovals, or Diagonal, such as their 'Semi Permeable Men- Brain'. The recent Nik Turner album "Space Gypsy" captured this vintage sound too and it is a great retro throwback to the psychedelic 60s. Hawkwind's 70s music such as 'Orgone Accumulator' also rests on one riff and launches into a freakout lead break in the same style as this Motorpsycho track. The main component of the lengthy 'Ratcatcher' is an extended psych jam that is primarily spacey guitar played improv style over a grinding rhythm and bass section. The drums crash and cymbals splash as the tempo quickens and the lead guitar picking is more intense. There is a lot of sustain and high powered string bends with pedal effects and it begins to hypnotise after a few minutes. It felt as though it were a live concert played to a bunch of stoned followers, in the style of early Pink Floyd concert performances. The vocals return with a grand finale and then it leads into a quieter free form jazz coda till it is all over; one to really ponder over and a very bold track for the band.

The album certainly is a surprise as it is perhaps a simpler approach to the music then the previous release that was totally conceptual focussing on a ship lost at sea and how the crew fight for survival against incredible odds. There are only 5 tracks and none really jump out and measure up to the mind blowing stuff on TDDU. The band even opt for an acoustic ballad with 'The Afterglow' and go for a Cream guitar sound on the cover by Love 'August' that is more like the 1969 song from "Four Sail" than I would have expected for a song recorded in 2013. Motorpsycho are great at capturing the vintage sounds of days gone by when rock gods were born such as Hendrix, Clapton and Garcia. I liked the album a lot but to be honest was expecting something awesome, and it does not deliver in the same way as their previous album; playing it safer and thus draining dry most of the creativity that made them such a powerful prog force on "The Death Defying Unicorn".

Report this review (#1105804)
Posted Friday, January 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars I haven't heard much of Motorpsycho's work (as of yet), but from what I've read they are a versatile band, trying to do a different kind of album every time. However, from what I did listen to (their later work), it all falls under the heavy acid and garage rock moniker, influenced by the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and heavy space rock. Its not all pounding, of course, for the band has a poppier and an acoustic side as well.

I've read that Eggplant was made of leftover material from other albums, and it kinda shows, with songs often ending abruptly, filled with directionless jamming and absent strong melodic hooks. The best of this 5 song bunch is probably Hell (parts 1-3; there are other parts on Behind the Sun, but they are not really related), with its monstrous riff and a cool minimalistic outro, and August, which has a couple of poppy verses before launching into a frenetic jam.

Report this review (#1370253)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2015 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars MOTORPSYCHO's last three studio albums have been nothing short of incredible in my opinion. I feel that this one and "Behind The Sun" are in the same style, more "Rock" albums but certainly more adventerous than your average Rock band. I just really dig everything about these two albums as they recall the music of my youth. "The Death Defying Unicorn" is a different beast, a much more adventerous and proggier recording and the one i'd rate as the best of the three. Reine Fiske from LANDBERK, PAATOS, DUNGEN etc. adds some innovative guitar on all but the opening track. Thankfully he was back for the 2015 release "Behind The Sun".

"Hell Part 1-3" is the almost 10 minute opener. A slow but heavy intro kicks into gear 2 minutes in and man this sounds good. Vocals before 3 minutes but they stop a minute later. The guitar is ripping it up 5 minutes in as the drums pound. Just an amazing section here. Vocals are back 6 1/2 minutes in but again they stop a minute later as it calms right down with drums and bass only. Nice. Guitar 8 minutes in as it stays laid back right to the end.

"August" is powerful and all instrumental to start and I must say I love this. I'm reminded of ZEPPELIN actually with the guitar and sound then it settles right down as the vocals join in. Contrasts continue. I miss August as we're getting a snow storm at the moment with high winds. This is such a feel good tune for me. Check out the guitar before 3 minutes, so good as it goes on and on for 1 1/2 minutes. "Barleycorn(Let It Come/ Let It Be)" opens with intricate guitar melodies as reserved vocals join in. It's fuller a minute in but still understated until it turns more powerful before 1 1/2 minutes. A calm follows with reserved vocals and intricate guitar like earlier as contrasts continue. I like how this builds then calms back down. Nice guitar before 4 1/2 minutes in this powerful section including some vocal melodies before it calms back down. It's building again until it kicks in before 6 1/2 minutes.

"Ratcatcher" is the over 17 minute epic. Atmosphere and interesting guitar expressions to start. It's building and the vocals join in before 3 minutes. It settles back a minute later as we get some inventive instrumental work. Love this stuff! It feels like they are jamming. It's becoming more intense after 7 minutes. Fiske is insane! Vocals return after 11 minutes then stop 1 1/2 minutes later as it settles down quite a bit until it's quiet 13 1/2 minutes in as they continue to jam but in a laid back manner to the end. "The Afterglow" reminds me of a late sixties Psyche-Folk song for the first 2 plus minutes with soft vocals before it turns fuller as the drums join in before 2 1/2 minutes and the vocals are stronger too. The vocals stop and we get this all instrumental section that is quite powerful with the guitar lighting it up over top. Vocals are back late.

A top three album for me for 2013 and one I highly recommend.

Report this review (#1509971)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Motorpsycho is one of those bands that I can't get enough of, even on their weaker albums, because their music is so interesting and mesmerizing. They have always experimented with different types of music, but overall, seem to be somewhere between psychedelic stoner rock and heavy prog, landing them comfortable in the Eclectic Prog subgenre. Their 2013 release "Still Life with Eggplant" lands right in the middle of one of their most creative periods when their music was also some of their best. This album comes after their amazing rock opera "The Death Defying Unicorn" and it sees them moving somewhat back to their psychedelic and stoner rock roots, but allowing for progressive changes throughout.

The line up at this time was pretty solid. You had the original duo of Bent Sther on vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards and Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan on guitars vocals and keyboards. Long-time drummer (by this time anyway) Kenneth Kapstad returns for this album. Reine Fiske joins the line up as a guest, but has quite a presence as he is involved in 4 out of the 5 tracks on the album providing electric and acoustic guitars plus mellotron on track 5. Thomas Henriksen also guests on keyboards on the 3rd track.

The album starts off with "Hell, Part 1-3" (9:47). The music starts off with the full band churning out a moderately slow, blues- based riff that definitely calls on their stoner rock days. Psychedelic keys lay the music on quite heavily also, and this solid intro continues until almost the 2 minute mark, then a new riff begins and the whole thing starts to follow a more moderate rhythm. Vocals with that psychedelic edge start and the whole thing comes together in a nice retro sound, but without sounding dated. This shows they can easily hold their own with their contemporary peers, like Queens of the Stone Age, yet Motorpsycho are not afraid to experiment with that sound, and totally go off into a completely different direction on a moment's notice. At 5 minutes, the music features a great double guitar attack that rocks with the best of them. Plus, Motorpsycho have a way to make everything sound different from anyone else. After 7 minutes, the track goes into it's 3rd part, which has a more minimal sound with ticking percussion tapping out a more spacey rhythm with wandering guitars.

"August" (4:52) begins with a progressive sound with tricky and dramatic drums and electric and acoustic guitars. When the vocals come in, it takes on a retro and sunshiney style while the riffs separating the verses are heavier and progressive. That weird contrast somehow all works out quite well, and it ends with a rousing and fuzzy guitar solo. "Barleycorn (Let it Come, Let it Be)" (7:18) starts with soft guitars playing together and mellow with some nice vocalizations. The tune quickly changes attitude as it nears anthem status, then calms again. That pattern repeats again, yet it is so unique that it doesn't sound like anything else, just great music. With many of Motorpscho's albums, I feel like they would have fit in so well with the great artists of the 70s. Yet, it doesn't copy them, they would have fit in as one of the originals that future bands would cite as an inspiration.

Next comes the epic "Ratcatcher" (17:10). The minimal echoing of psychedelic guitars instantly lets you know that this one is going to end up as an otherworldly space jam of the best kind. It soon takes off in that direction when the wild drums start and the guitar riffs kick in. Hazy sounding vocals come in to match the sound, with everyone singing along in a foggy but heavy melody with layers of cool effects. After one verse, the music quickly slips into the psychedelic meandering that you are hoping for as guitars weave around a solid bass and soft percussion. Foggy shades of jazz and spacey psychedelia take you on a blessed-out trip. Soon, it all gets somewhat chaotic as it continues, ebbing and flowing as it grows from softness to crazy, trippy and noisy styles, then all melding together into a structured riff and then wandering away from it again and then pulling together again to end up in the 2nd verse of the lyrics, but this time with a noisier background. What sounds like a nice progressive ending finally sort of falls apart and then meanders around for a while with soft improvising guitars.

"The Afterglow" (5:58) combines soft acoustic and electric guitars playing a swirling background as soft and pensive vocals create a nice melody. Drums finally come in halfway through giving it a good forward rhythm and this takes it all into a nice guitar-led sound where the rhythm takes on a more driving feeling and the music continues to intensify, yet remain quite melodic at the same time. This finishes things off with more emotion in the last verse, culminating on a definite high.

Motorpsycho continues to amaze during this phase of their history, a band that has come into their own, and doing it while most of the world refuses to pay attention. Yes they have their fans all over the world, but they should be considered one of the best bands out there as their music is always inventive and well written, even the improvised sections are done so well and masterfully. It does come close to being one of their masterpieces, but just stays a bit under the bar that they have established for themselves, yet it is still one of their best albums.

Report this review (#2245796)
Posted Thursday, August 22, 2019 | Review Permalink

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