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.