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Motorpsycho – Ancient Astronauts

Ancient Astronauts
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 July 2022, 7:02 AM

The album was recorded in Amper Tone studio in Oslo in the summer of 2021. Since COVID was still making international travel very difficult, Stockholm-based Reine Fiske wasn’t in the studio with the three core MOTORPSYCHO members, making this the first album in years that they recorded as a three-piece. Recorded mainly in live takes with only a few overdubs and the vocals added afterwards, this is essentially the band playing live in the studio. The cover consists of stills from the movie project, filmed at dawn in early August at Skottbu in Norway. The title “Ancient Astronauts” remains a bit of a mystery: are they following clues left by earlier travelers or are they perhaps leaving some themselves? The album contains four songs.

“The Ladder” is the first cut. The rhythm and pacing of this song is as odd as the chord progressions, especially in the vocals. There are periods of disconnect with the instruments, and then periods of reciprocity. The fuzzy guitar solo ushers in a darker sound as the sonority picks up. Like a ladder, it builds as it ascends. “The Flower of Awareness” is much shorter, but no less weird. There is very little sonority, what you would expect the sound of a flower to make…virtually none. “Mona Lisa Azrael” is a 12-minute opus. Gentle, weeping tones marked the beginning, with strings and a slow drum beat. Vocals also roll in slow, and melancholy. At the four-minute mark, it picks up a little, with tense percussion. A jam ensures from there, with thick bass notes in unison with the drums, while eerie leads are played over top, and there is a long fade-out at the end.

The lengthy, 22-minute “Chariot of the Sun to Phaeton on the Occasion of Sunrise (Theme from an Imagined Movie)” closes the album. There is a very long fade-in with the slow building of layers. It isn’t until the six-minute mark until we get a clear sound. Bass guitar begins to thump away in a groovy rhythm, and gradually more instruments are added, until the 12-minute mark, when the sound gets fairly chaotic. The sound then drops until the 18-minute mark, followed by a brief moment of sonority, and then it drops again through the end. What a strange album. The band are obviously talented, but what are they really going for in these four songs? Perhaps the title of the album is indeed the end result…a mystery in every sense of that word.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 3
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

1. The Ladder
2. The Flower of Awareness
3. Mona Lisa Azrael
4. Chariot of the Sun to Phaeton on the Occasion of Sunrise (Theme from an Imagined Movie)
Record Label: Stickman Records


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