For over five years, progressive and jazz-minded psychedelic post-rockers Motion Turns It On (Chocolate Lab Records) have been developing a tight, yet free form sound they can call their own. In 2007 the then all-instrumental band released its impressive debut six-song Rima EP, and a live record, Live At The Southpaw, followed early the next year.
For its long-awaited debut full-length Kaleidoscopic Equinox, which hits stores Tuesday, February 16, the band recorded plenty of bass parts but went from a foursome to a “bass-free” trio (parting ways with Derek Sinquefield), which now consists of William Kenny (guitar), Steve Smith (drums) and Andres Londono (keyboards). They did however add one new wrinkle to its densely layered mix: vocals (courtesy of Londono and Kenny).
On Rima, MTIO already sounded like seasoned pros. If you had to draw comparisons, hints of fellow Texans Explosions In The Sky and Mars Volta, or even Chicago’s post-rock mainstays Tortoise could be found if you looked hard enough. With Equinox, you get an even more creative, intense and fucked-up beast of a sound. A kaleidoscope of sounds is more like it.
After a brief intro to the album, a heavy, five-minute long math rocker “Exchanging Souvenirs” gets the record off to an enjoyably noisy and forceful start.
Extraterrestrial sounds and feedback make up interlude “Teraform” before the one-two punch of jazz/rock tunes “Lo Pido Con Piedad” and “Occipitalized” blast through your speakers to show off the threesome’s incredibly tight arrangements and tremendous musicianship. The latter track would qualify as a frantic Mars Volta cover if you didn’t know better.
Elsewhere, the seven-minute-long “Moyedi,” despite its indecipherable distorted vocals, has a flair for the dramatic, musically speaking, but gets lost in itself for a bit too long around the halfway point, then without warning, heads into a strong, rockin’ steady finish.
“No Limbo” sounds like the musical equivalent of the Twilight Zone with its weird synths and airy guitars, while the psychedelic "Way Station" could be the soundtrack to a journey into outer space.
All is well that ends well, as they say, and a seamless transition from lead single “Give Up The Ghosts” to the dreamy, warm “Sinking Suns” is a welcomed bookend to Motion Turns It On’s first proper full-length. Here, as in other places on the record, the (heavily processed) vocals serve as another instrument, blended smoothly into its sea of sounds.
It will take a few spins of Kaleidoscopic Equinox to take in all of its crackling energy, intensity, and few moments of relative calmness. But aside from a few periods of over indulgence, it is an adventurous listen that aggressive prog rock fans will surely dig.
The band may be making a lot of noise on this disc, but with a few important gigs lined up at the annual SXSW Festival in March, Motion Turns It On is bound to turn some heads with their explosive live shows as well.
Download ”Give Up The Ghosts” for free at the Chocolate Lab Records website.