CD / Side A
Roughly one year after the ambitious, orchestra-assisted collaboration with Ståle Storløkken entitled The Death Defying Unicorn, Norway’s most renowned psychedelic/hard rock act, Motorpsycho, delivers their 18th studio effort, Still Life With Eggplant. The music is almost as random as the title sounds, as the band is known for constantly shifting styles from one album to another. However, Still Life With Eggplant is one of their most accessible works, consisting of ideas Motorpsycho wrote in the past 3 years, but couldn’t find their place on their last year endeavor. As a result, there are various jazz traces, but most of material here has its’ roots in the hard rock sphere. The songs all aim for slightly different directions, none of them classifying as filler, while the melodic, sing-along vocals are usually catchy and memorable. This time, Reine Friske was added as the second guitar player to the line-up to add some boost.
Out of the five tunes, the album’s massive progressive piece “Ratcatcher” is clearly the centerpiece; it starts slowly to a fuzzy sing-along, followed by a long, jazzy interlude with more intricate bass and drum lines akin to King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”, while the guitars solo for several minutes. Another sung verse is added mid-point, before ending with another long but gentle, jazz-lounge influenced segment. For Motorpsycho fans, this type of lengthy, complex tracks isn’t anything out of the ordinary, as their discography is scattered with them. Still, the execution is flawless, showcasing the results of 24 years of pushing musical boundaries. Also, the two stand-outs bookending Still Life With Eggplant, “Hell, Part 1-3” and “The Afterglow”, are contrasting on both titles and sound: “Hell, Part 1-3” borrows from early Sabbath doom riffs, yet the vocal melody is joyful enough to make the listener smile and happily nod his head to the music. Then, out of the blue, this minimalist coda shows up, finishing the track on an unexpected low-key style. “The Afterglow” is a straightforward, mid-tempo country folk tune that feels like an evening walk in the park. The soothing vocals and the acoustic guitar offer some needed peaceful moments without any other gimmicks. Midway, the other instruments kick in, much like a power ballad builds up, and the guitar slide along with the mellotron, add some more beauty to the track, making it a suitable, epic closer.
Still Life With Eggplant winds up as one of Motorpsycho’s most straightforward and enjoyable releases. Of course, it might not be a classic any time soon, but their fans and hard rock fans in general will like the record. It’s an enjoyable 45 minute ride that doesn’t consume the listener, it only wants him to sit back, bang his head to it and have a good time.