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Behind The Sun Joe Banks , March 20th, 2014 08:38

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Despite bearing the type of name you'd expect a half-arsed garage band to adopt (from a Russ Meyer film, if you were wondering), Motorpsycho have become (over a period of 25 years) Norway's most successful, and certainly most prolific, alt rock band. Starting off with a post-grunge, pre-Radiohead sound, they've gradually embraced their inner Floyd and evolved over time into a stoner/psych/prog amalgam who've produced some of the best out-rock of recent years. In fact, it's hard to think of many other bands of their vintage who are still making new music of this quality, particularly given that they continue to release albums at a rate of one every 18 months or so.

Whereas previous albums have sometimes veered towards in-your-face bombast, Behind The Sun is more of a grower, though what emerges is one of their most consistent and cohesive releases to date. While there might not be anything as monumentally rifftastic as 'Hell, Parts 1-3' from last year's Still Life With Eggplant or audaciously jazz-prog as 'Starhammer' from Heavy Metal Fruit, the songwriting throughout is confident, a little less showy than usual, and dare I say more mature.

Though obviously that's relatively-speaking, as there's still plenty of thrills along the way here. Aided and abetted by Reine Fiske from Swedish fellow travellers Dungen, the overall sound on Behind The Sun puts me in mind of a Nordic Queens of the Stone Age slugging it out with late-70s Yes, while Neil Young officiates from behind a giant Mellotron. Opening track 'Cloudwalker' encapsulates this perfectly with its fluid, crunchy riffing and a great ascending chorus that singer and bassist Bent Sæther delivers like a ballsier Jon Anderson.

'Ghost' cops more of the Young vibe, its lovely perambulating acoustic riff, Slint-esque vocal and personal lyrics emphasising that this album is more about the little details than grand sweeping gestures, such as the final dissolve here into a mist of discordant strings. In contrast, 'On A Plate' is pure Grand Funk Railroad, with a riff that's so 70s it's funny, bucking and roiling like a tethered dinosaur being dragged into a modern day circus.

'The Promise' is perhaps the best track on the album, its ecstatic vocal, super-dynamic rhythm and guitars you want to eat summing up everything that's great about Motorpsycho in a single song. 'Kvæstor' mines that Yes seam circa Drama once again, and while it sprawls a bit, it's a great display of musical chops if nothing else. 'Hell, Parts 4-6' returns to the more personal feel of 'Ghost', its swinging acoustic riff mutating into a brazen strut, before a gentle breakdown full of fluting Mellotron leads into a cosmic rocking finale.

'Entropy' invites us to imagine a world where Neil Young followed up Harvest with a concept album about thermodynamics, while 'The Magic & The Wonder' is another tight slice of proggy pop/rock, packed full of colour and detail. The album closes with 'Hell, Part 7', a blast of biker dude rock with tortured vocals in uncomfortable counterpoint to the Hendrix-y blues funk riff. The deliberate lack of focus is a bit disorientating, and perhaps the only real misfire here.

In truth, Behind The Sun could easily lose a couple of tracks and increase its impact, but Motorpsycho conspicuously always want to provide a fully immersive, all-or-nothing headtrip to the listener – and in this day and age, for that we should be very grateful indeed.

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john lewis
Nov 5, 2015 5:14am

Avoided DDU these last few years and only decided to purchase to complete my collection. Wish I hadn't! You need the patience of Job for this! Horrible chorale type vocals and piss poor production. Not a pulse on the whole damm thing!

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Nov 5, 2015 4:30pm

I should have added that all their other albums are all first rate and pass the repeat "playability test " and have become necessities of life for their metallic innovation and super coolness! You'd have thought after 25 years they would have become museum pieces, but hell no as kick- ass as ever!

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john lewis
Nov 21, 2015 2:23pm

Have been revisiting Demon Box after many years away and am surprised how vital and earthy almost tribal the band were on this sophomore release, hell compare this stuff to the crap Metallica churned out early on! No contest. Motorpsycho existing in realms way beyond most others staying true to the groove with Sabbath soul of dense barrages and rumbling noise. Maybe not the grand dame of their catalogue but damm near it! Check out the crapola of many metal/prog bands early lobotomy offerings. My respect grows.

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Nov 28, 2015 5:35am

So 1:58 in they hit a murky Budgie power trio vibe
all bass driven & chunky riffola (Homicidal Suicidal) and im wetting myself waiting for the heavy slabs to come? But...oh dear those multi tracked gang vocals!....(wots this Take That?) spoil
SLWEGG to what purpose I dunno? Maybe courting the cool & timeless ready for their Vegas residency?The tried & tested works guys!! I loved them raw and occasionally technical but sparkle
lounge accessibility.....? Nah!

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Nov 28, 2015 6:51am

After the soppy closer on SLWEGG I was seriously worried that Behind the sun would be a continuum of the flaccid popsicle! But Cloudwalkers driving riff soon dispels that but...those multi TT vocal harmonies AGAIN!( Heh guys your not in a bloody
choir!) mar an otherwise kick ass opener! Ghost
the obligatory twee ballad just floats by....on a
plate ( horrible vocals...again) but solid chops &
heft promise much, hooky and raucous fer sure but as I say those...!Five through six are a blast
of jazz funk moves richly textured by feasts of guitar chimings spoiled by some folk acoustic washes at 6:00ish but a solid close out rescues things. We're accustomed to this from the manic sychos but newbies may look for the exit! Duff track Entropy asks you to sit back and relax and heh check out the harmonies at 3:80 so sweet! (Where's the sick bag) an all time low for the band!
Closers the magic is pretty indistinguishable from
their crapola catalogue and final slab hell prt 7 really should not have bothered. We had this with Rush albums that became more poodle like each successive year.

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john lewis
Feb 14, 2016 5:44am

The cover art looks as though it had about 10 seconds thought put into it..... tops!'s hoping Be Here Monsters is a cause to rejoice
and not a goof -off like the last two poptastic offerings. Back in the sewers guys!

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Mar 2, 2016 5:33pm

In reply to john lewis:

Oh dear! Be here Monsters turns out like the cover art bereft of even a pulse for most of the 40mins!
If I wanted to listen to the King's College choir I'd have bloody gone to Cambridge! This is light years away from the scrappy breath of fresh air Demon Box days provided us with! Comatose, synthetic key board laced mellow muzak for the over 60's.
What's worse that most of this stuff obviously off the cutting room floor of the last two crapola efforts wouldn't even make filler on Trust US!
I could go on but won't in deference to a once great outfit. Better left unheard and if I had to score it....tops 0/10!

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