23 Aug 2022 - Thorsten
Motorpsycho, Progressive Rock | Stickman Records | Release date: 19 Aug 2022 | Favorite song: Mona Liza / Azrael
No matter if you like them or not, one has to admit that Motorpsycho from Norway are not only one of the more productive bands of our time (basically one album a year is their average) but that their output is also of a constantly high level. So the question for the new record Ancient Astronauts is not a level of quality but rather one of differentiation – what does this record different and/or better than the other umpteen records the trio has put out in their long history?
Disclaimer: This review was written after only four spins of the record – as with every Motorpsycho album, one might need a full week to take in all the little things and details that they all only give away after hundred spins or so!
So, it’s that time of year again – when all lovers of the unconventional once again gather around their record players, put on the new Motorpsycho record and listen and behold the beauty given to us by the Norwegians. And what can a simple man say? It‘s the same magic that signifies the beginning of Christmas time by watching Die Hard aka THE Christmas movie. And each Motorpsycho record is THE progressive rock record for the year. No one needs more.
However, we have to ask – is this one of those outstanding christmases when long-missed auntie Adrian comes back and makes some of the most wonderful cakes from ancient recipes handed down over generations in the family or a rather run-of-the-mill one with the same procedure as every year, guys? Both are always jolly good time, and Ancient Astronauts is somewhere in the middle, auntie is back but forgot the recipes and thus makes some good sponge cake soaking up everything in its way. The trio of Bent, Hans Magnus and Tommy give us some amazing moments, for example in the third track, “Mona Liza/Azrael“, when they open up with a wonderfully mellow, sunshiney, 60s-folk-inspired intro with some simple but majestically sung lines by Bent (“ So beautiful it breaks the heart / a force to tear the soul apart / Heaven fair so close to hell / Mona Liza – Azrael“). And then they counterbalance it with a seemingly easy shift into one hell of a trip into Afrobeat-realms that has one foot on the gas (listen to the noisy guitar parts!) but on one the breaks as it never drifts into full-impro-mode which is a good thing, if you ask me. When they bring both parts together shortly before the end for a short waltz, that is like quintessential songwriting at its best. Then they do something that they normally don‘t do, but they intersperse some ambient passage into the song to let it flow into the next one “Chariot Of the Sun – To Phaeton on the Occasion of Sunrise (Theme from an Imagined Movie)“. That track in itself is an indescribable beast of a song with 22 minutes length (more than half of the whole album) – no need to say that this track is impossible to analyze!? Because of the length of this track, they had to unsymmetrically divide the album into Side A with the first three tracks and Side B with “Chariot…“ alone!
And believe it or not – they use more ambient parts on this record, even a short drone-employing interlude in the form of the two-minute track “…The Flower of Awareness“, the second of the four tracks. Even when they do not make full use of this form of music, there are some moments when it comes through on some instruments, e.g. during the first part of “Chariot…“ with its slightly ambient twang on the guitar. Thus one can say that YES! There are some new elements or elements that we have not heard on their records in that form. Once again the prog-rock world must say that if you need only one prog-rock record this year – it should be Motorpsycho‘s as the three auntie-witches have concocted some great stuff! So let‘s have some mellow-ambient-psychedelia cake and enjoy it with some new toppings that are more than your average heavy metal biscuits. (Damn, have to listen to it again, might have overheard something.)