[record reviews: blissard]
Review of Blissard taken from the
Blissard 1995 Columbia
Maybe Satan didn't steal the teddybear after all. There's reason to believe the out-of-focus object on the cover of this album is indeed the missing teddybear. What can we conclude from this? Can Motorpsycho be Satan? Has the bear taken up a job as a model? Or are Motorpsycho perhaps holding the teddy as hostage in exchange for positive reviews? I'm not sure, but whatever it is, it's mean!
Motorpsycho are a band that suffers a bit by almost all their albums having at least a few filler tracks dampening the overall experience. I suppose that's a problem any band that tries to experiment a bit can suffer from, and what one considers filler is another persons favorite song of all time. On this, their fourth album, the band cut down on the noisier experiments and steer more to fields of indie and hard rock. And it's always positive to find rockbands that incorporate instruments like the thermin, vibraphone and violin. Hell, they throw in an oscillator whilst they're at it!
Most of the songs are quite catchy rocksongs, but with that little extra added in so it doesn't feel trite. Whether it is odd breaks, quirky riffs, unexpected instruments or insane buildups. The mad crescendo that ends off the otherwise quite poppy "The Nerve Tattoo" comes to mind. Personally I've become most fond of the quieter tracks that build themselves up as they go along. "True Middle" is an instrumental song that's accompanied by spoken word. The song itself is actually quite repetitive, but makes perfect use of timbre and dynamics, to build a really tense atmosphere before the songs builds up into a peak, then stoops down into a slow fade out. The following track, "S.T.G." utilizes some of the same effects. During its almost ten minute length it goes from being an awesome hardrock song, to a noisy jamfest, to a very laid back acoustic buildup with various sounds seeping in and out of the soundscape. Slowly it builds itself up and tears itself back down again, really pulling you into the music and constantly hinting that "Now! Right around the corner comes a riff that'll tear your stank head off!" When the change does happen...well, I don't want to spoil it.
Surprisingly, for such a guitar-focused band, the only instrument that really sticks out is the excellent bass playing courtesty of Bent Sæther. Still, this is very much so a band where the instruments work together rather than try to out-play each other, and that's quite a feat in its own right. The vocals are as always the weakest link here, but the uneasy, frailty of the vocals fit the songs quite well. I can't quite imagine this band with someone like Bruce Dickinson or Jon Spencer behind the microphone. Overall the album serves everything from some great hardrock tunes, to some beautiful laid back songs. Unfortunately the last two songs on the album, the acoustic "Fools Gold" and the ambient "Nathan Daniel's tune from Hawaii" end the album on a bit of a sour note, as both are rather dull listens. Still, this doesn't hold this back from being a great album and one of Motorpsycho's finest hours.