Motorpsycho

Behind the Sun

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In 2013, Norway's ever mercurial Motorpsycho released Still Life with Eggplant, with second guitarist Reine Fisk added to the fold. It was a collection of "other songs," those written for previous albums but not recorded. Those five cuts, despite their random sources, did have another connecting thread: they reflected some of the band's earliest explorations into hard rock and neo-psychedelia as displayed on records like Demon Box and Timothy's Monster. The way forward for Motorpsycho was apparently through the lens of the past. Behind the Sun marks the band's 25th anniversary, and once again, they journey further into that back catalog of unrecorded material. Produced by bassist and vocalist Bent Sæther, Motorpsycho once more employs Fisk as well as violist Ole Henrik Moe and violinist Kari Ronnekleiv. These nine tracks are as focused as those on Eggplant and often more adventurous. Opener "Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)" begins as something of a Baroque psych tune and unwinds into a taut dynamic rocker with the strings and multi-part vocal harmonies adding texture and force. "On a Plate" is furious, riff-driven guitar rock that recalls the unhinged energy of the band's earliest sound. Rumbling tom-toms and pulsing synths introduce the instrumental "Kvæstor (Incl. Where Greyhounds Dare)," but are quickly joined by the twin-guitar attack of Hans Magnus Ryan and Fisk. A throbbing bassline and strings drive the front as the guitars sing, churn, and shape-shift between intensity and melody. The "Hell, Pts. 1-3" is a suite that began on Eggplant. It continues here with "Hell, Pts. 4-6: Traitor/The Tapestry/Swiss Cheese Mountain." Over nearly 13 minutes, it commences as airy, twisting prog rock with blended acoustic and electric guitars, synths, and strings, all buoying Sæther's urgent vocal. While a fingerpicked vamp holds the center, tension begins to ebb and flow as stinging guitar solos, dreamy keyboard interludes, and cymbal washes gradually erect an architecture of transcendent, anthemic rock. "Entropy" reveals Motorpsycho's more subtle dimensions. At over seven minutes, it gradually unfolds with a lyric bassline, lush, layered vocal harmonies, shuffling drums and skittering cymbals, and breezy keys and guitars, all contrasting sharply with its melancholy lyrics. "Hell, Part 7: Victim of Rock" closes the set with a screaming solo guitar and drum assault over a frenetic bassline. Unhinged sonic psych effects -- loads of reverb, backmasking, etc. -- frame this labyrinthine, careening rock ride that sends Behind the Sun off on stun. After more than 20 records, Motorpsycho remain inexhaustible in their creativity, fully, energetically, in command of a musical vision that is boundless.

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