Motorpsycho are a Norwegian band who originally formed in the late 1980s and - with a few changes of personnel over the years - are still going strong 30 years later. The core of the band is Bent Sæther (Bent) and Hans Magnus Ryan (Snah) and each has performed on every Motorpsycho release to date.
“every Motorpsycho release to date” meaning 23 studio albums, 5 live albums and too many EPs to bother counting.
The band don't really have a core sound any more, having basically done whatever they wanted to, but here's my attempt at summarising if you fancy dipping your toes in the water.
A note on re-releases: The band are currently re-releasing their albums, aligning vinyl/CD versions, as well as adding the usual kind of songs that didn't make the albums. To date, they've all been at least 4 CDs, so I'm commenting on them as a potential purchase separately.
First EP: Maiden Voyage
Originally released on cassette, the band tried a Kickstarter for a re-release a couple of years back. It didn't get very far, which probably tells you all there is to know.
Album 1: Lobotomiser
The band's first album is not a great introduction. Sludgy proto grunge rules the day.
One for completionists.
Album 2: 8 Soothing Songs for Rut
Actually two EPs (Rut and Soothe) mashed together, this is a step up in quality from Lobotomiser, even if it's still a way short of being a good entry point. There's more to like here and less to actively dislike, but it's still an album to skip until you feel you have to have the back catalogue.
Album 3: Demon Box
The first classic, this is an excellent album, but it certainly took me a while to get into, so have a listen and see whether it's your thing. Wonky grunge and hard rock filtered by producer Deathprod's weirdness.
Re-release: if you like what you hear, it's worth getting the re-release (look for the version that comes with 'Mountain' as track 6) as they fix the 'missing track' situation, the sound is cleaned up slightly and the loudness boosted a touch.
Album 4: Timothy's Monster
Still many fans' favourite album, this is a more indie-rock affair than anything else they're released to date. The production is a bit flimsy at times and while there are a lot of very good songs on the album, it's light on absolute classics.
Re-release: You get the album as it was originally intended to be (Disc 3) plus an odds-and-sods Disc 4 with some shrug-worthy mixes/edits alongside some surprisingly good material.
Album 5: The Tussler OST
For a bit of a break from the routine, the band hooked up with some local musicians and bashed out a long-haired country album. It's hard to recommend it to people who don't like country, since this is very country, but it's an album I always enjoy listening to, so there.
Re-release: The 2003 re-release tacks on ten songs of varying quality and interest and throws in some liner notes. Again, there's some good stuff among the new material, but it'll be a little hit-and-miss.
Album 6: Blissard
My personal favourite album as of the day I write these exact words, the band aimed for a harder rock sound, didn't exactly get what they wanted from the first mix, ended up rushing through a bodge-job and got their most consistently excellent set of songs.
Re-release: Probably the most recommendable to date. CD3 comprises the original mix of the album (take it or leave it), CD4 has the requisite EP tracks, unreleased stuff and maybe-interesting bits of studio jamming, but CD2 contains a "lost album" - a strong series of mostly slow, deliberate songs unlike anything else they've recorded.
Album 7: Angels and Daemons At Play
An album where the band deliberately pushed the boat out a little further than they had before, this is another classic album. It includes 'Un Chien D'espace', now one of the band's signature tracks. Overall, it's another very good album, but probably less cohesive than Blissard or Timothy's Monster.
Re-release: The re-release emulates the original vinyl release (as 3 LPs), adding a couple bits and pieces here and there. Disc 4 is the odds and sods with a couple of genuinely excellent songs while Discs 5 & 6 are a very good live performance from around the time of the album's release.
Album 8: Trust Us
The songs are generally longer and while the band aren't quite in 'jam mode', there's a bit more experimentationing and a slight 'trip up my anus' feel to the instrumentation. But the overall quality is still very good, even if general opinion among fans seems a little more split here than on anything since before Demon Box.
Album 9: Roadwork Vol. 1: Heavy Metall iz a poze, hardt rock iz a laifsteil
The band's first live album - as a document of the band's live shows at this point in their career - is a pretty good one; but as a live album, it's a great one. The sound quality is good (irrespective of the disclaimer in the liner notes) and the song & performance choices are excellent. Whether you'd get as much out of it if you didn't already know some of the songs is debatable, but it'd still be a very enjoyable album.
Album 10: Let Them Eat Cake
The band kicked off what was basically the second act of their career with a musical sea-change, with hard rock thrown out the window in favour of West-Coast-tinged psychedelic pop. The album got good reviews on release, but wasn't rapturously received by the fans. That said, almost 2 decades later, most of them seem to have come around to what is another very good album. It's probably the band's best album of this type and stands up well to the rest of their catalogue irrespective of the style.
Album 11: Roadworks Vol. 2: The Motorsource Massacre
A recording of (part of) a joint performance between Motorpsycho and jazz group The Source (plus Deathprod) at Kongsberg Jazzfestival, this is comfortably the strangest release in their catalogue (to date, anyway), and can comfortably be ignored unless you're keen to sample the sort of weird stuff the band gets up to from time to time.
Album 12: Barracuda
A short album (labelled as an EP, but 33 minutes is an album) released apparently as a way of mollifying fans put off by the band's musical departure on Let Them Eat Cake. There's some good stuff here, but the album never really feels like something the band put a lot of passion into, so even if there's little here to dislike it's a hard album to recommend.
Album 13: Phanerothyme
The band's second album of psychedelic pop throws a few more elements into the mix, with some jammy, woozy, semi-drunken brass and indie-rock moments. There's nothing essential here, so while I really like some of the material on this album, it's one to buy if you're looking to complete your collection, or if you just want more music from this period of the band's life.
Album 14: It's A Love Cult
A bit further into early 70's psychedelic rock, the good stuff is good, the not-so-good stuff is forgettable and even the best stuff feels like it'd be better-served on a different album, and that's a theme with this album. Good, but a long way short of their best and overall a bit of a damp squib.
Album 15: Motorpsycho + Jaga Jazzist Horns – In The Fishtank
An interesting diversion for the band, hooking up with the brass section of Jaga Jassist to work through a couple of new takes on existing tracks and some original compositions. This is an interesting, and in no way essential album. Get it if you like jazz-rock or, like Roadworks 2, you want to see some of the band's off-script work.
Album 16: Motorpsycho Presents the International Tussler Society
In which the band reunite with their Norwegian country music friends to run through some more tunes. Less long-hair country and more southern rock this time around, but still mostly good fun. Much like The Tussler, this is worth getting if you like country music, or at least if you liked that album.
Album 17: Black Hole, Blank Canvas
The band said goodbye to their long-time drummer, Hakon Gebhart, before making this double-album of acid rock. The first half is fairly straight-forward, with mostly rockers and a couple of good tracks alongside a bunch of other songs that don't quite work; while the second half is more enjoyable with some more diverse stuff that makes a nice change after the stodge of the first half. If you haven't guessed, I'm not a big fan of this album. The production seems half-arsed and the songs themselves aren't particularly great throughout.
Album 18: Little Lucid Moments
The band recruited a new drummer – Kenneth Kapstad – and started down the road to Prog. The opening title track is the only real prog moment here, while the other 3 tracks are mostly songs that have had the opportunity to spread out a bit. This album was very well received by the fans (and reviewers) and kicked off the next phase of the band's career. Whether it's worth getting probably depends on your tolerance for long songs and willingness to give it a few listens – this isn't the most immediate of their albums by a fair distance, but does reward you giving it your time.
Album 19: Roadworks Vol. 3: The Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse
An edited version of a gig at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, recorded on the “It's a Love Cult” tour. The original version of this album appeared on the band's Haircuts DVD, but has since been re-released. Rumour has it you can 'sense' the tension between the band (the drummer was about to quit), but you can't. This is another seriously good live album, with a version of 'Hogwash' that is simply fantastic.
Album 20: Child Of The Future
The band had apparently long had a desire to work with Steve Albini. They took their chance and recorded probably their worst album of material since Lobotomiser (since 8 Soothing Songs For Rut was two EPs). It's only available on vinyl, so if you don't own a turntable, congratulations, you have no reason to own this.
Album 21: Heavy Metal Fruit
A concept album about gently caress knows what – something to do with a sentient spaceship? – this album takes the prog leanings of Little Lucid Moments and goes a bit hogwild. The results are... uninspiring. There are good moments, notably towards the end, but not enough to make this worth owning until you're running out of stuff to buy.
Album 22: Roadwork, Vol. 4: Intrepid Skronk
Compiled from a series of gigs across a tour, this is basically a document of the band with Kapstad as drummer. It's nice to have an excellent live version of 'All Is Loneliness', and the take on 'Wishing Well' – while it also demonstrates how not to use Pro-Tune on vocals – also includes a terrific guitar solo that shows how good a guitarist Hans Magnus Ryan can be on his day. Like with all of the Roadwork albums, this comes highly-recommended, with the caveat that knowing the source material will probably help you enjoy it more.
Album 23: Motorpsycho & Stale Storlokken – The Death Defying Unicorn
Constructed in the aftermath of a live performance at the Molde Jazz Festival, this is an album that probably works best if you consider it a 'jazz album' than part of the band's general oeuvre. It's an album I've bounced off more than enough times to have basically given up on, but there are good parts for anyone with the patience to plough on (and good reviews suggesting that it's worth the investment).
Album 24: Still Life With Eggplant
The band recorded this with Reine Fiske (Dungen), drinking heavily at the altar of prog for 'Hell, part 1-3' and 'Ratcatcher' but deferring to less abstract notions elsewhere. So there's something to like for fans of meandering, and a couple of good songs for fans of – y'know – tunes and melodies. Hard to recommend this as a starting point, mind you.
Album 25: Behind The Sun
A mix of psychedelic-folk and psychedelic-prog-rock, I'm not sure this album really hits either of those completely dead-on. It's clear how much time went into working these songs out in the studio but, more so than with the previous album, the tunes & melodies have sort of been left behind. Which isn't a problem for some, but means I struggle to recommend this album.
Album 26: Here Be Monsters
An album created after yet another commission, this time the band dialled back the tempo and turned the mood to 'low'. There are quieter, louder, slower and faster bits spread across the album and – delightfully – the band brought some tunes and placed them relatively high in the mix. Honestly the first studio album in almost 10 years I can recommend as a good intro point for new fans.
Album 27: The Tower
With a new drummer on board, the band (almost) went back to old-fashioned rock 'n' roll as an inspiration for this album. There's a persistent political element to the lyrics on the album but you could probably ignore the lyrics and enjoy this album regardless, simply because the band have brought recognisable riffs and tunes to a bunch of the tracks. An album that's as good an introduction to the band as any they've released.
Album 28: Roadwork Vol 5: Field Notes – the Fantastic Expedition of Järmyr, Ryan, Sæther & Lo live in Europe 2017
As expansive a live album as the band have (felt able to?) release, this is 110 minutes of material spread across 6 tracks (if you ignore the scene-setting 'Sleepwalking' at 2 minutes). Again, this is an attempt to record the live experience of the band at this time period (check out the album sub-title). There are only two new tracks here – 'Ship of Fools' and 'Lacuna/Sunrise' – that both get well-represented, but it's the older songs – 'Manmower', 'Taifun' and 'Un Chien d'Espace' that show the band is as good as ever.
The band are 'a little' behind the times with the internet. Their official website was only created a few years ago - and links to a fansite for anyone who wants a forum. That said, they've just launched* a new site where fan-made videos of their live shows can be easily found (and this is a band who tour a lot). So that's nice.
Strictly speaking, it's a fan site the band are endorsing.
So yeah; let your beard grow long and wild, dress like you haven't been outside in 30 years, put your headphones on and drop the needle.
|# ? Dec 8, 2018 10:39|
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 16:26|
I've heard this band is quite good, and am just laving a reply in thanks and for reference later- peace!
|# ? Dec 10, 2018 19:35|
Good band, have especially fond memories of their 90s output. I guess Demon Box is the most frequently spun record for me. Kept me warm on many cold nights in my crappy student lodgings.
As an aside I used to live in the same neighbourhood in Trondheim as Bent Sæther and would see him around the place shopping for groceries and such. Never talked to him though.
|# ? Dec 11, 2018 15:28|
One of my ideas for the OP was to include some songs, but the OP just got too long, so I didn't.
But I'll try to put a few in here and there - probably live versions, since Motorpsycho are a live band first and foremost.
Here's video #1.
Hogwash - from Roadworks Vol. 3: The Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse. (Originally from Lobotomiser).
Arguably the highlight of Roadworks 3 (even if Ryan can't get his amp sorted out at the end)
She Left on the Sunship - from Little Lucid Moments
A song in two parts: the first half a storming rock tune; the second half a sort of looping jamming section.
(I looked for a live performance, but couldn't find a good one with a second guitarist, and it doesn't look like they've played it live in the last year.)
kingturnip fucked around with this message at Jan 6, 2019 around 20:40
|# ? Dec 23, 2018 19:53|
Started getting into these guys somewhat recently (about 4 years ago) and I've slowly come to recognize them as one of the greatest rock bands ever. I think nearly every studio album proper they've done has been fantastic, with the exception of the first one, which is okay but a bit unremarkable. Always felt that the 90's stuff was a bit overrated in comparison to the rest of their discography, as good as those records are. I like the proggy stuff more than you do though. They've got a cool aesthetic to them - a bit rough around the edges and the vocals aren't particularly great but they have the ability to bite off more than they can chew. Great track pick too; love how they sort of randomly slip into a motorik groove sometimes. I'd always wondered if they were inspired by Neu! but the first track on It's a Love Cult sorta gives that away. Anyway, great thread
|# ? Dec 31, 2018 16:05|
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 16:26|
Big Black Dog - from Here Be Monsters
Starts slowly, in keeping with the subject matter, but the rock kicks in just after 4 minutes and, allowing for a bit of space to ramp up-down-upagain, just keeps on going.
|# ? Jan 27, 2019 00:12|