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Kingdom of Oblivion
(2021 - Rune Grammofon/Stickman Records - Norway/Germany)
Perhaps thicker with alternative rock/grunge at the beginning, and scattered throughout, but as Motorpsycho have demonstrated so many times, this too has many other elements beautifully woven in like the best proto-progressive, with excursions into psychedelic, baroque pop, heavy classic rock, and combinations of all those, plus other genres added. The band has never feared experimenting, and in previous reviews I have noted that they seem to be able to tackle any style on the planet, and still sound like both experts at it, and stay Motorpsycho all in a mouse's night. "Kingdom of Obliviion" takes almost (not everything as the early punk angles and later avant orchestrated RIO are not here) all of the previous adventures and combines them into one extra strong recording. Much of this has a revisit to much earlier times (very dreamy in spots), and one can see the need to both escape and confront the Covid world. The only thing the listener is left wanting more of, is for the songs to keep on past the 12 that are on this platter.
Again, a release on the Rune Grammofon label, which has supported Motorpsycho for many incredible recordings. This release (like some previous ones) is also issued by Stickman Records out of Germany. Not wishing to repeat stereotypes, but the band being Norwegian does lend the dark nimbus created with a good deal of their music. However, sweet (and fans may dislike that term) and gentle moments seem painless for these masters. In fact, if one listens close, glimpses of Porcupine Tree and even Sting pop up as influential, or at least this is the sound I hear just briefly, especially on 'The Hunt' (track 9/CD) giving one a big dose of Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner. Following that up is one of their gentle 60's dreamscapes called 'After The Fair'. All instrumental and the perfect bridge to one of their epic pieces titled 'The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker' (10:55) which forces onward their heavier side. Might I call it psychedelic grunge with a 5th dimension? All numbers are original compositions except one cover (B2 on vinyl, track #5 on CD/download) is a Hawkwind song called 'The Watcher', written by Ian Fraser Kilmister (RIP, better known as Lemmy, a bass player for several other bands, including Motorhead, besides Hawkwind).
The Lineup is Tomas Jarmyr -drums, vocals/ Hans Magnus Ryan - lead guitar, vocals, keyboards, mandolin, violin, bass/ and Bent Sæther - lead vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, drums. Added is Reine Fiske on keyboard and guitar, who has been a continuing collaborator with the band. This always aids in the thickening up of the arrangements, as they are often lush with atmosphere. The tune that ends the album ('Cormorant') picks the listener up, gives them a gentle magic carpet tour (nice and slow, in the clouds) and in the same manner, lands into a surrealistic meadow, where you can lay back and keep your head in that place for an extended time. One must not leave out the supporting artists who all make this album what it is. A veracious cover (and inside art) by artist Sverre Malling, who has done other wonderful craft for bands like Tusmørke ('Fort Bak Lyset'), fine engineering by Peter Deimel, expert mastering by Helge Sten, graphic design by Havard Gjelseth, and a great job of producing from Bent Sæther (member of Motorpsycho of course).
It is with pleasure to state this is another corker, a real charm, and a release fans will adore. Sadly, newcomers who have not heard the almost historical amount of music (This is album number 25, not to mention some box sets, live releases, DVDs, and EPs/singles) and various elements of the band's output, may find it less glowing. However, I suspect more will love it than not. After all, even for fans trying to wish for another "The Death Defying Unicorn" (2012, with Stale Storlokken, Ola Kvernberg, Trondheimsolistene [orchestra] and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra [yes a 2nd orchestra], among many other players - and THIS is one of my all time pinnacle recordings deep into the avant-garde, the kind that makes you drool and not believe what you are hearing at times), "The Tower" (2012), or "The Crucible" (2019), will find much to love here. Any which way you view the band's output, this latest release is outstanding and keeps up the eminent skill level in fine statuesque form. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 5 - 20 - 2021
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