Motorpsycho — „Ancient Astronauts“ (Aug. 19th, 2022)

NORWAY FLAG main                                                   Motorpsycho — „Ancient Astronauts“ (Aug. 19th, 2022)
•ƒ•  Od roku 2017 do roku 2021 norští Motorpsycho nahráli a vydali rozsáhlou „Gullvåg Trilogy“. Skládající se z dvojalba The Tower z roku 2017, The Crucible z roku 2019 a The All Is One z roku 2020 (další dvojalba), všechny tři se mohou pochlubit úžasným přebalem od malíře Håkona Gullvåga. Skupina také demódovala materiál, který jim nesedl. Rozlehlá instrumentálka ze stejné ligy jako Rush — „Book II: Hemispheres“ prochází dlouhou, klikatou cestou od drátovitého progu k bouřlivým hardrockovým a alt metalovým groovům s labyrintovou dynamikou, složitými zvukovými texturami a epizodickým pohybem. Než se tempo zrychlí, postupně se rozvíjí mírnější otevírání. Jeho četné přechody jsou plynulé, přesné a při rozvíjení tématu přidávají frenetickou energii, sílu a soustředění. Bez ohledu na to, jak daleko toto obsedantní dobrodružství putuje, zůstává přesvědčivě poslouchatelné. Motorpsycho nikdy neztratí linii děje. Ačkoli album Ancient Astronauts je složeno a demódováno v nesourodých, ne zrovna v ideálních podmínkách, ve svém provedení je pozoruhodně holistické, což odhaluje přechod kapely k dalšímu tvůrčímu vrcholu. Video „Chariot of The Sun“ obsahuje fragmenty filmů Andreje Tarkovského: Solaris (1972), Mirror (7 March, 1975), The Sacrifice (1986) a Ivan’s Childhood / Ivanovo dětství (6 April, 1962).
Location: Trøndertun, Melhus ~ Trondheim, Norway
Genre: Psychedelic | Alternative Rock
Album release: Aug. 19th, 2022
Record Label: Rune Grammofon
Duration:     43:32
1. The Ladder   6:41    
2. The Flower of Awareness   2:14    
3. Mona Lisa Azreal   12:15    
4. Chariots of the Sun: To Phaeton on the Occasion of the Sunrise — (Theme from an Imagined Movie)   22:22

Review by Sunnyvale, STAFF Aug. 15th, 2022 Score: 4.0 excellent  
•ƒ•  With thirty~plus years under their belts, Norway’s powerhouse band Motorpsycho isn’t slowing down. If anything, they’re more prolific than ever. With the release of Ancient Astronauts, the group has now released an LP in every calendar year since 2019. Even better, these quick turnarounds haven’t resulted in reduced quality control. For anyone who has been enjoying Motorpsycho’s latest run, this new record will simply represent another cherry on top.
•ƒ•  With its taut four~song tracklist, Ancient Astronauts evokes classics from an earlier era of prog, like Rush’s Hemispheres or Renaissance’s Scheherazade And Other Stories. Such suppositions aren’t entirely off, with the band leaning into the long~winded ‘70s feel they have always toyed with.
•ƒ•  That said, this isn’t a full~on revivalist effort. Indeed, all the elements which Motorpsycho has manipulated over the years (particularly during their latest era) are here. Ancient Astronauts feels most prominently like a cross between vintage prog and the summery stoner psych of contemporary bands like Causa Sui and Colour Haze, coming together with the feeling of a rousing live performance. Indeed, the album was recorded largely through live takes as a trio, under the special conditions of the pandemic. It’s an immensely enjoyable collection, even if the album’s structure is a bit unusual.
•ƒ•  More on that last small quibble: as mentioned, Ancient Astronauts is composed of only four tracks. This fact acquires more significance when I say that it really only hits its stride with the third song. Opener “The Ladder” is perfectly serviceable as a great late~era Motorpsycho song, somewhere between off~kilter prog and crunching stoner riffage, followed by the quiet little interlude “The Flower Of Awareness”, but neither are likely to set a listener ablaze with excitement. The last duet, though, is something else entirely.
•ƒ•  The album’s penultimate and ultimate tracks are both tunes created as a musical accompaniment for a live performance of the Impure Dance Company. It’s an interesting meeting of different art forms, and while I’m not familiar with the work of said dance company, the musical results feel quite inspired. To begin, “Mona Lisa/Azrael” crams vast sonic diversity into its twelve~plus minute runtime, moving from a gentle intro to furious guitar freakouts to a slightly more delicate but nonetheless triumphal finale. It’s a resounding success which is immediately one~upped by the closer “Chariot Of The Sun~To Phaeton On The Occasion Of Sunrise (Theme From An Imaginary Movie)”, which is every bit as epic as the long~winded title would suggest. With a sprawling duration of over twenty~two minutes (making it over half of the album’s total), the song travels a sinuous path from airy prog to pounding hard rock groove, back and forth, never quite losing the plot, while acting as the album’s definitive heart and soul.
•ƒ•  Where Ancient Astronauts ranks in the context of Motorpsycho’s recent catalog will likely prove somewhat contentious, as splitting hairs based on each listener’s peculiar preferences is required to pick between all these quality efforts. What’s certain, though, is that this is yet another strong release from a veteran crew whose mature~era output puts the vast majority of bands of their tenure to shame. Additionally, as a relatively trim outing and with its inherent jamminess (that’s a word), Ancient Astronauts can serve well as a solid first experience for Motorpsycho novices. Just don’t dive in expecting four-minute verse~chorus~verse tunes, and enjoy the ride.
Ancient Astronauts Review by Thom Jurek Score: ★★★★ 
Label: Motorpsycho