Motorpsycho: Still Life With Eggplant

Nordic heavy-prog trio embark on a jazz odyssey.

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Fusing the heavy grind of metal, the quick-change virtuosity of prog and the volatile dynamics of free jazz, Motorpsycho numbers generally fall somewhere between ski-kissing genius and interminable onanistic earwank.

A relatively straight affair after a run of limited edition, vinyl-only and collaborative concept albums, Still Life With Eggplant returns the prolific Norwegian trio to their comfort zone of sounding like a three-way death-match showdown between Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and Sonic Youth. It also features Swedish psych-rocker Reine Fiske as guest guitarist, adding folky finger-picking delicacy to the Wicker Man-meets-Genesis ripeness of Barleycorn (Let It Come/Let It Be) and the sun-dappled, jangly cover of Arthur Lee’s August.

If the album has a centrepiece, it’s Ratcatcher, a monumental prog-jazz-metal-folk symphony that features surging vocal harmonies, acoustic noodling, super-heavy riffs and angry swellings, all punctuated by extended sections of desiccated post-Krautrock guitar-tweaking that approximate how Radiohead might sound after two weeks of drinking battery acid. Fantastic, epic weirdness.

But then, just to fuck with our heads, Hans Magnus Ryan and co. finish with the gently melodic and deceptively conventional emo-rocker The Afterglow, which sounds like Foo Fighters jamming with ELO. Why this sudden stylistic shift? For the same reason dogs lick their own balls. Because they can.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.