Reviews 2176

The Norwegians' first anthology - compulsory listening for kids today! It´s testament to their standing in their homeland that, last month, Motorpsycho were given their own retrospective exhibition at the Norwegian Museum of Rock. That's in Trondheim, the town where Bent Saether and Hans Magnus Ryan formed this band 25 years ago. Given their hunger for fashioning great sounds from alt-rock, metal, psych, classic rock and prog, it's almost hard to believe they've been at it for so long. Assembling an anthology representative of their quarter-century career is something of a fool's errand - you're never going to please everyone - but, boy, is this is a brilliant stab at it. Just one listen will rekindle any love you may have once had for this discretely pioneering lot. Cleverly, Supersonic Scientists isn't a simple, chronological account. What you get is a well-sequenced set of 17 remastered tracks, judiciously selected from across the studio catalogue of Motorpsycho's 12 incarnations. (Bundled in with the CD is a pleasing 'rock family tree' guide to the whole dozen.) How can you go wrong opening up with The Demon Box's awesome Nothing To Say, Vortex Surfer and into the monolithic slab of space rock that is Starhammer (here in its edited version, a mere 11 minutes). Shame on those cool teen mags, indie sheets and hipster titles for not hoisting this band adoringly on their shoulders - haven't they heard punky screed The Nerve Tattoo? The spiky Strokes-redux earworm In Our Tree? In a world where Radiohead et at helped tune modern audiences in to substantial, left-leaning music, why have college campuses never truly resounded to The Other Fool or Afterglow? The craft behind harmony-drenched, 60s West Coast encomium Go To California, the sustained logic of 13-minute shoegaze piece The Golden Core - these things leave you marvelling at the sheer consistency and quality of Motorpsycho's quarter-century in music. Hurl this album at every kid you care about. Do it now.
Prog (UK)

Established post-rock/progressive/psychedelic act Motorpsycho unleash a 2LP/2CD 25 year career retrospective. "Supersonic Scientists - A Young Person's Guide To Motorpsycho" succeeds in its remit and though fans of vintage psych may sniff at the band's early metal overtones they will certainly revel in the intricate shapes and sounds of the second half, notably the folkish The Other Fool, the mellow Go To California and Cloudwalker's XTC-like charm. 4/5.
Record Collector (UK)

First-ever anthology from Norwegian psychonauts. Ahead of a new studio album in early 2016, what better way to toast Motorpsycho's 25th anniversary than with a spanking compendium of their best bits. That said, attempting to solidify such a back catalogue onto just two discs was always going to be an awkward task, bearing in mind that Norway's finest have dabbled in everything from country to jazz to metal, and various stations in between. And while the approach here is sensibly democratic (opting to make room for one song from each studio album, more or less), some tunes simply demand to be included.1998's Vortex Surfer is a given, a heaving proggy epic that builds to a screeching crescendo. And if you ever wondered how Graham Nash would sound fronting a metal band, then the sublime Cloudwalker, complete with suitably towering chorus, should scratch that itch. The mutability of Motorpsycho music has meant that it's existed, for the most part at least, outside of the vagaries of fashion, though it's occasionally possible to feel the wind of the times. The grungey howl of 1993's Nothing To Say, for instance, carries a clear imprint of Nirvana. At their best they create a fluid dialogue of riff-rock, prog and psychedelic, as on the brilliantly wiggy Psychonaut or the digressive ramble that is The Other Fool, which eventually settles into a weird kind of ambience during which singer Bent Smother suggests getting high and chilling out to Pink Floyd. Newcomers to all things Motorpsycho could do much worse than start right here. 8/10.
Classic Rock (UK)

The back cover of Supersonic Scientists starts by acknowledging the record's inevitable failure. A 25-year anthology has to accept that it will be a disparate mash of a band's various evolution-ary stages. This won't be a cohesive experience, and there will be sudden sharp turns from gymnastic grunge to lumbering juggernauts of sadness and selfdoubt. Yet even if the Norwegian group have acquired a certain virtuosic restlessness in their latter years — some of the fuzz weight has been lifted in order to flex those jazzy, syncopated limbs — there s a persistent tension of mood running through the whole thing The 11 minutes of Starhammer illustrate this well: there's a curious glint of funk constantly trying to drag the sludgy, despondent grunge out of the house, fending off the festering stench of trad rock by allowing psychedelic FX to gush through the windows. For 25 years they've been thriving off the frictional sparks between a heavy sound and an exploratory, lushly orchestrated optimistic thirst. It's never been less than fascinating to observe.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)   (radio interview)