[record reviews: phanerothyme]
Review of Phanerothyme taken from the
Tracklist: Bedroom Eyes (2:18) For Free (5:13), B.S. (3:41) Landslide (4:38), Go To California (8:00), Painting the Night Unreal (6:35), The Slow Phaseout (4:30), Blindfolded (3:44), When You're Dead (4:54)
This is already the sixth full length studio album of Norwegian formation Motorpsycho. With a band name like that, I expected to hear some deafening metal, but the contrary was true: a pastoral album with hints (very, very obvious hints) to The Doors and early progressive music like Camel, Caravan and Canterbury. They apparently came up with their band name while watching a Russ Meyer triple-feature in London. The name "Motorpsycho" was the only one not yet in use by a band (the other two were "Mudhoney" and "Faster Pussycat"). In their home country they are apparently very big, with their 2000 release "Let Them Eat Cake" hitting number 1 in the Norwegian charts!
The album opens very quitely with the acoustic pastoral Bedroom Eyes, where the experience of the band becomes apparent in the way they use simple means to create an optimal effect. For Free is an up-tempo, progressive track, mildly Spock's Beard like. In that respect the band sounds more American than European. But after that the level goes down to salon-rock in the very kitsch B.S.. With its silly flute melody it sounds like the opening tune of The Love Boat! They pursue that style, albeit a little less extreme in the next track, which then starts to sound like a late sixties Yes track (the style of the first Yes album). The same can be said about Go To California, which is a mix between early Yes, Caravan, Focus and The Doors (it has a very very Light My Fire like rock organ solo in it). Painting the Night Unreal is a jazzy track, of the sort that Pink Floyd could sometimes produce in their early years, with some sharp guitar playing in it. The Slow Phaseout on the other hand reminds me of Rod Steward. Say no more. When You're Dead, finally, is a jazzy Tom Waits like track. The half drunk saxophone melody gives this track some "cachet".
The thing is, it is a very diverse album where some fine tracks are interlaced with some mediocre compositions (of course, all viewed from a proggers perspective). The production and packaging are quite good and the instrumentation and skillfulness of the band members is also top-notch. It is a fabulous album to play when you are driving in your car going on a holiday to some sunny country for instance. It has a bit of that Route 66 nostalgia feeling to it. But as a progressive album it does not do much for me.