In 1994, Norway’s Motorpsycho released one of the greatest “unheard” albums of all time, Timothy’s Monster. It was a double CD/triple LP affair on a tiny Norwegian label, and never had much of a chance. In an act of either unprecedented hubris, or simple commercial suicide, independent Rune Grammofon Records have doubled-down on Timothy‘s Monster with this 4-CD box set. It is a lot of things, not the least of which is being one of the coolest retrospective packages ever.
With all due respect, Motorpsycho originally belonged on Sub Pop. When they formed in 1989, their mix of post-hardcore punk and seventies rock was a style that would eventually come to be known as grunge. Just like Mudhoney, they took their name from a classic Russ Meyer film. Even the flannel shirts and heavy boots they wore put them in line with their Seattle brethren.
Although Motorpsycho were musical lumberjacks who had much in common with the Sub Pop bands of the time, their isolation was nearly total. So while the rest of the world became enamored of grunge, Motorpsycho’s music progressed at a pace all its own. Timothy’s Monster was their third album, and is a remarkably diverse collection of styles. By playing what they wanted, the band came up with music that was miles ahead of what the rest of the rock world was doing. It was also a very obvious inspiration to both Billy Corgan and Wayne Coyne, two of the most celebrated artists of the era.
The strummed acoustic guitar of “Feel” sets the stage perfectly for the tour de force to follow. From there “Trapdoor” opens into a world both inviting and forbidding. The irresistible hook at the heart of the song gives way to a frighteningly powerful guitar solo midway, then returns triumphantly. This give and take is a common musical theme throughout the album, but is by no means the only one.
Track five, “Kill Some Day,” is where the first flashes of indisputable brilliance shine through. For many self-described “Psychonauts” the feedback-drenched tune is the band at their absolute peak. It is an unforgettable riff that finds our heroes valiantly carrying on the punk torch dropped long before by such greats as The Replacements and Husker Du. The song makes one wonder at what might have been, had the rest of the world heard it at the time.