MOTORPSYCHO-THE ALL IS ONE.
Motorpsycho-The All Is One.
Label: Rune Grammofon.
Motorpsycho was formed in Trondheim, in October 1989 and released their debut album Lobotomizer in 1991. Since then, they’ve been one of hardest working and prolific bands in Norway.
Last year, the Norwegian rockers released two albums and toured Norway and Europe twice. That would’ve been more than enough for most bands. However, Motorpsycho aren’t most bands and somehow, they managed to find time to record three more albums. This includes The All Is One, which was recently released by Rune Grammofon and is the third and final instalment in what Motorpsycho lightheartedly and affectionately call their Gullvåg Trilogy.
The first instalment in the critically acclaimed Gullvåg Trilogy was The Tower, which was released in 2017. On the album cover was a painting by Trondhein-born artist Håkon Gullvåg. So powerful was the imagery that it inspired and affected Motorpsycho’s music on The Tower. So would the paintings that adorn the next two instalments in the Gullvåg Trilogy.
In 2019, Motorpsycho celebrated their thirtieth anniversary and released The Crucible. This was the much-anticipated second instalment in the Gullvåg Trilogy. It was released to plaudits and praise and later in 2019 work began on the followup and final instalment in the Gullvåg Trilogy The All Is One.
The first session took place in Studio Black Box, in France during September 2019. For the recording Reine Fiske joined forces with Motorpsycho. The tracks that were recorded were relatively concise and there was a traditional structure to the music. There songs didn’t have a theme that ran through them, but have the same type of concepts that feature on Motorpsycho’s last few albums.
This includes living in a much more polarised society than previously, and how many people throughout the world have lost faith in democracy and in civic institutions. Motorpsycho believes that some of the world’s “strong leaders” are reminiscent of those who led previous totalitarian regimes. They also believe that the album is their soapbox and allows them to voice their opinion on the state of the world. It’s a privilege that very few people have, and Motorpsycho realise this, and use their albums to provide a voice for those who sadly have none. They look at the bigger picture and important issues that are affecting society and realise the importance of contrast. This is no different to their music and the scales music and lyrics they use when they record an album like The All Is One.
The second main recording session for Motorpsycho’s third instalment in their Gullvåg Trilogy took place at Ocean Sound Recording in Norway. This was where they recorded a forty-two minute five piece suite entitled N.O.X. It’s a piece of that Motorpsycho were commissioned to write and performed at the St. Olav Festival in Trondheim during the summer of 2019. They were joined onstage with two of their favorite Norwegian musicians, Lars Horntveth of Jaga Jazzist and Amgala Temple and Ola Kvernberg of Steamdome.
N.O.X. is an impressive suite that was inspired after a discussion with artist Håkon Gullvåg and celebrates the themes in his work. Motorpsycho can relate to his art and they also realise it’s not often a group finds the kind of affinity they’ve have found with his art. That’s why it’s no surprise that the size, scope and lyrical contents of N.O.X. have been inspired by Håkon Gullvåg’s work.
Motorpsycho decided not give a clear and concise explanation of the meaning of what of N.O.X. is about. However, they’ve left clues throughout this epic piece and believe that they should allow the listener to solve this musical mystery.
The remainder of the tracks on The All Is One were recorded by Motorpsycho at home at Kommun’ in Trondheim. What these lack in subtlety and intricacy they more than make up for in the mood they create. They offer a contrast to the large and luxurious sound. In a way, it’s quite sobering which is fitting.
With recording of The All Is One completed, all that was left was for the album to be mixed and mastered. This meant that the album release was pencilled in for the spring of 2020. However, the “global pandemic” put paid to this. While the mix process and mastering wasn’t affected, it was decided to push back the album release until late August 2020.
Meanwhile, Håkon Gullvåg had offered to paint the album cover to The All Is One. This was an honour for Motorpsycho given how his artwork has inspired their music. That includes Motorpsycho’s latest album The All Is One.
The best way to describe the genre-melting music on this epic album is intense, dense and cerebral. Some listeners might find the music challenging, but if they’re patient and stick with the album they will be richly rewarded. It’s like many albums the more one listens to The All Is One the more one understands the music on this ambitious album of innovative and intriguing music. Seamlessly Motorpsycho switch between and fuse disparate musical genres on an album that gradually reveals a myriad of subtleties and nuances on this cerebral and thought-provoking album. It deals with various environmental, moral, political and social issues facing the world today.
The All Is One shows two different sides to Motorpsycho. One of them is them is the N.O.X. suite, a forty-two minute opus that is the centrepiece of the album. It’s quite different to what Motorpsycho have done in the past.
N.O.X. suite opens with Circles Around the Sun, Part 1 and Motorpsycho’s decision to add strings is a masterstroke and the arrangement becomes lavish and luxurious. It’s also beautiful, intricate, intriguing, jazz-tinged and melodic. Later, the track becomes dissonant during a voila solo and briefly chaotic before the listener is rewarded when the instrumental jam Ouroboros (Strange Loop) is ushered in. It veers between beguiling and dreamy to creepy and unsetting and at times has a cinematic sound. Then there’s the sun-kissed psychedelia of Ascension which is one of the highlights of the suite and the album. Very different is Night Of Pan where Motorpsycho paint pictures with music and toy with the listener’s emotions. Soon, though, the darkness descends and the nightmare begins as the music becomes unsettling and at times otherworldly and filmic. The nightmare continues on Circles Around the Sun, Part 2 despite the inclusion of choral vocals and strings. However, the nightmare is nearly over as the acoustic track A Little Light offers a contrast as it closes the suite which has been an epic adventure.
Motorpsycho use their trademark sound as the building block for the N.O.X. suite. This includes classic rock, folk, jazz, psychedelia and progressive rock. Listen carefully and the influence of Genesis’ early albums, Pink Floyd, Yes in their pomp and Magma during their heyday can be heard. There’s even a free jazz influence during this stunning suite which is one of the most ambitious pieces of music that Motorpsycho have recorded since the group were formed in 1989. However, there’s more to The All Is One than the N.O.X. suite.
There’s the shorter tracks that were recorded during separate sessions. Motorpsycho were joined by their friend Reine Fiske of Dungen who they’ve collaborated with on a number of albums. Together, they recorded tracks that range from alt-rock to folk-tinged, hard rocking and progressive rock. This allows the band to showcase their considerable skills and versatility.
Among the highlights are the meandering title-track with its jangling chords and blistering lead guitar and a powerhouse of a vocal. Quite simply, it epitomises everything that is good about Motorpsycho. Then there’s Dreams of Fancy with its undulating groove where a mellotron plays a starring tole and the track benefits from occasional acoustic interludes. The tempo rises on The Same Old Rock (One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy) and The Magpie which are much more straightforward rocky tracks. Like Chrome which closes The All Is One is one of the most melodic tracks on the album. It ebbs and flows, builds and rebuilds and takes a number of twists and turns. Resistance is impossible as Motorpsycho have kept one of the best until last on the track that brings to a close their Gullvåg Trilogy.
It began three years ago with the release of The Tower in 2017. The second instalment in the critically acclaimed Gullvåg Trilogy was The Crucible which was released in 2019 as Motorpsycho celebrated their thirtieth anniversary. A year later, they make a welcome return with The All Is One which is the last instalment in the Gullvåg Trilogy. It’s also the most ambitious of the three albums. That’s no surprise as the centrepiece of the album is the N.O.X. suite, a forty-two minute progressive opus.
Just like the rest of this genre-melting album the music was insprired by Håkon Gullvåg’s artwork. His artwork like Motorpsycho’s music during the Gullvåg Trilogy is powerful and poignant. Especially on The All Is One where they fuse disparate musical genres with searing social comment.
Motorpsycho admits that their albums are there soapbox, and also provides a voice for those who have none. That is the case with The All Is One where they deal with various environmental, moral, political and social issues that affect the world today. It’ll certainly be interesting to hear Motorpsycho’s post-pandemic album. Hopefully, it’ll help expose the charlatans, cheats and power-hungry politicians with secrets to hide and blood on their hands that currently rule and have ruined once proud nations.
Meanwhile, The All Is One brings to an end Motorpsycho’s critically acclaimed Gullvåg Trilogy and they’ve saved the best until last. It’s an ambitious, cerebral, innovative and thought-provoking musical odyssey from Motorpsycho with the epic N.O.X. suite as The All Is One’s centrepiece.
Motorpsycho-The All Is One.