Motorpsycho: Demon Box

Big-box treatment for the Norwegians’ Grammy-nominated breakthrough.

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The Trondheim band’s third release marked them as weirdos to watch in 1993.

An ambitious, eclectic double album, it saw them transition from a run-of-the-mill grunge outfit into progressive magpies willing to throw everything into the pot. Demon Box remains a curious, conflicted and contradictory affair, lurching almost randomly from creepy folk to pounding metal to the left-field sonics of then-member Deathprod. To love it requires strenuous effort, and the splurge of uninspired muddy rock-outs halfway through side one might alienate many, but if you’re prepared to put a shift in, it yields dark charms. This monster five-disc box (a more conventional two-disc set is also available) is borderline deranged in its completist tendencies. It’s fair enough to add the previously vinyl-only tracks the record company left off the original CD to cut it to a single album – that’s your first two discs explained. But then we have a third disc for two subsequent EPs, Mountain and Another Ugly, plus a live Home Of The Brave. The fourth disc gathers ‘mostly’ unreleased outtakes, live tracks and rarities, while the fifth offers a down-and-dirty September ’93 gig from Groningen in the Netherlands. Fans will lap this up, of course, but to the casual observer it seems to be stretching a rubber band into a windsock. For diehards only, then. For those who haven’t seen the Motorpsycho light, they sometimes (during this era) sound like nobody so much as semi-forgotten shoegazers Swervedriver. That’s when they’re relaxing. Elsewhere, as on Gutwrench, they turn things up to 11 while allowing a little (but not too much) Nordic gloom and despair to filter through. The epic title track evokes My Bloody Valentine playing Black Sabbath, but Sheer Profoundity is as gauche as its title. An acquired taste, then, like its strange, sinister sleeve.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.